Calvary Chapel Cross Country: The Essentials We as the coaching staff are making commitment this year to teaching the essentials of running and cross country this season so that you may use this information as you run this season and in the future, whether competitively or recreationally. 1. Acclimating to the Heat You can acclimate to excessive heat and humidity by performing mild to moderate exercise in a hot environment. After 1.5 - 4 hours of exercise per day for 5 – 15 days, the body will adjust (acclimate) to hot and humid weather conditions. Successful heat acclimatization results in: (1) a lower resting body temperature, (2) lower skin and core temperature during exercise, (3) decreased exercise heart rate and metabolism, and (4) increased sweating and evaporative cooling. The result of these changes will be improved performance in hot weather. By running for long distances or by picking up the pace during a normal run, you can build endurance and actually get the same four head acclimatization results, even when training in a cool environment. Training and acclimatization will enable you to safely exercise at higher intensities in the heat. This, of course, is essential for racing. Reference: Dr. Gisolfi, professor of Exercise Science and past president of American College of Sports Medicine 2. Heat Stroke & Heat Exhaustion Every year the dangers of heat stroke and heat exhaustion seem to make the news as fall high school sports begin. Cross Country runners are at risk because of the level of physical exertion of the sport and the high temperatures during fall practices. During early morning practices, as temperatures are cooler, heat illness should not be a problem. However, as we will be eventually training and occasionally racing in the afternoon, we must confront the issue of safely running in the heat. It is important that all of you know the causes, symptoms, and treatment of heat illnesses for your own safety as well as the safety of those around you. Physical exertion, high weather temperatures, and insufficient hydration all contribute the heat illness. The body normally generates heat as a result of metabolism, and is usually able to dissipate the heat by either radiation of heat through the skin or by evaporation of sweat. However, in extreme heat, high humidity, or vigorous exertion under the sun, the body may not be able to dissipate the heat and the body temperature rises. Another cause of heat stroke is dehydration. A dehydrated person may not be able to sweat fast enough to dissipate heat, which causes the body temperature to rise. Heat stroke is essentially a more severe form of heat exhaustion in which the body temperature rises way too high. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, and fainting. The victim's pulse will be fast and weak and their breathing will be fast and shallow. While heat exhaustion is no joke, the more severe heat illness by far is heat stroke. A person with heat stroke may have all the signs of heat exhaustion plus some that are the result of his or her high body temperature. Physically the heat stroke victim may have symptoms such as a high body temperature, absence of sweating, flushed dry skin, and difficulty breathing. Other symptoms include strange behavior, hallucinations, confusion, agitation, disorientation, seizure, and coma. If you begin feeling this way or notice these behaviors in a teammate, it is important that you take these steps. It is important for the heat illness victim to cool down. To do this, stop running, find the nearest shady spot, cool down the person with water, fan the person to promote sweating and evaporation. It is often suggested that the person removes his t-shirt. There should be other teammates in the area so recruit another person so that the heat illness victim is not unattended. A coach should also be in the area and will take over the care of the person. If you notice any of the symptoms of heat stroke, call 911 if you have a phone. Your coaches will have their phones so find one of us and we will take care of the person and alert the appropriate emergency personnel and then the person’s parents. Of course the greatest preventative measure against heat illness is proper hydration. Conveniently, the next section is all about hydration! 3. Hydration (Dehydration & Hypotranemia, Water vs Sports Drinks) Hydration is defined as the level of water and electrolytes available for your body to sustain a particular level of performance. Water makes up about 55-60% of the human body and 75% of muscle tissue. Electrolytes play an important role in the firing of electrical signals including those that trigger muscle contraction. Consequently hydration is very important for athletes. Not drinking enough water leads to dehydration. (Duh!) The daily water consumption for an average adult is 2-2.5 L. The daily water needed for endurance athletes is more than that. Fluid loss has an impact on performance. The following effects are exhibited, looking a fluid loss as a percent of body weight: 1 %: elevation of temperature 3%: impaired performance 5% cardiovascular strain 7% decreased ability to regulate heat 10+%: heat stroke It is not uncommon or dangerous for a person to loose 2-6% of their body weight due to fluid loss. However, it is important to replenish both the fluid and electrolytes lost due to sweating and respiration. It is important to replace 2/3 of the fluid lost due to sweating in a workout during the practice and immediately afterwards. For every pound of water lost, it is important to drink 20-24 oz of water. The potassium, chloride, sodium, and magnesium electrolytes must also be replaced. These can be regained either through food or sports drinks. Many people prefer hydrating with sports drinks rather than water because the taste encourages a person to drink more than he or she normally would. (A general rule is that once a person is thirsty, he is already dehydrated.) Also sports drinks have been designed to replace both fluids and electrolytes. Most sports drinks have been developed with the performance of the athlete in mind. This is what you want in a sports drink: for every serving there should be 110 mg of sodium and 20 mg of potassium. No more than 6% of the drink should be carbs. (To calculate the percent, divide the grams of sugar in one serving by the amount of fluid (in mL) in one serving, then multiply by 100 to get the percent.) If there are more than 6% carbohydrates, the fluid will pass through the stomach more slowly and will not be absorbed by the small intestine for a longer period of time. The body will better utilize a drink the faster it empties the stomach. Larger or colder volumes will also pass through the stomach more quickly. So what are the signs and symptoms of dehydration? Signs of dehydration include thirst, headache, lethargy, chills, muscle cramping and rapid resting heart rate. One of the best indications of dehydration is urine color, however unpleasant to talk about that may be. If you are well hydrated you will have a lot of lemonade- colored (or lighter) pee and if you are poorly hydrated you will have less dark yellow, strong smelling urine. Practically, drink 20 oz 2-3 hours before practice, replace 2/3 of the water lost after and during practice (usually 16-24 oz) and avoid alcohol (that should go without saying) and caffeine since these are diuretics. Bring a water bottle to school and practice. You can only have plain water in your classes so consider getting some sports drink powder to keep in your locker and add to your water before practice, if you like sports drinks better than plain water for hydration. Is more water always better? Though the answer may seem to be “yes,” there is a danger with drinking too much plain water too. The concentration of those essential electrolytes becomes too low and the resulting condition is known as hypotrenemia. So drink a lot and drink often but don’t drink excessively. Your body requires the proper amounts of water and electrolytes, no more, no less. 4. Nutrition & Sleep Nutrition: Though success in sports is determined primarily by athletic ability and proper training, nutrition affects the athlete in many ways. Nutrition is important for normal grown and development and for maintaining good health. A healthy athlete feels better, trains harder, recovers more quickly, and is less susceptible to illness. The minimum caloric consumption for a high school athlete is 2000-2200 calories daily. There are a number of dietary patterns that provide good nutrition. Here’s some guidelines on what your body needs: Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates, such as sugar and starch, are the most readily available source of food energy. During digestion and metabolism, all carbohydrates are eventually broken down to the simple sugar glucose for use as the body’s principle energy source. Glucose is stored in the muscles and liver as a substance called glycogen. A high-carbohydrate diet is necessary to maintain muscle glycogen—the primary fuel for most sports. When athletes don’t eat enough carbohydrates, their glycogen stores quickly become depleted, resulting in fatigue. Though the body uses both the sugars and starches for energy, a high-performance diet emphasizes nutrient-dense carbohydrates. These include whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruit, pasta and rice. Runners need 3-4 g of carbohydrates per pound of body weight and no more than 75% of total calories should be from carbohydrates. Protein: Protein is a major structural component of all body tissues and is required for muscle growth and repair. Protein is not a significant energy source during rest or exercise. Athletes have slightly higher protein requirements than non-athletes but in our culture protein deficiency isn’t usually a problem since most people consume enough protein daily. Runners need 75 to 100g daily of protein minimum. Fat: Fats, or lipids, are the most concentrated source of food energy. Fats are involves in the insulation of organs and transport of fat-soluble vitamins. All athletes need a certain amount of fat in their diets and on their bodies. The challenge is eating a diet that provides the right amount. In general we have more than enough fat in our diets. Besides these three sources of calories there are some other important nutrients including vitamins and minerals. Vitamins are metabolic regulators that help govern the processes of energy production, growth, maintenance and repair. Vitamins do not provide energy, although vitamins are important for the release of energy from carbohydrates, fats and proteins. There are two groups of vitamins: water-soluble and fat-soluble. Athletes should try to consume the amount of a nutrient recommended by the RDA. Minerals serve a variety of important functions in the body. Calcium is an important mineral because it is used to build and maintain bones. It is suggested that runners have 1000-1300 mg of calcium daily. Iron is an important mineral because of its role in delivering oxygen to your cells. If you’re iron-deficient, you’ll feel tired and weak, especially when you run. Men need 8 mg of iron a day and women need 18 mg. Vitamin-C rich foods like orange juice enhance iron absorption. Lastly, fiber is an important component of any healthy diet. Runners and non-runners alike should consume 25 g of fiber daily. Sleep: Getting enough sleep is essential. It is suggested that at a minimum a high school athlete gets 8 hours of sleep plus an additional minute for every mile he or she runs in a week. Thus a person running 35 miles a week will need to sleep for 8:35 at the very minimum. I know that with your academic course loads getting enough rest can be challenging to impossible. However, do your best to get a good night sleep every night. Working ahead on school projects and homework on Saturdays and light homework days can help reduce and spread out your workload during the week. Efficiently using free time at school to do homework also helps. Unfortunately people think that when the schoolwork piles up, the solution is to stay up late (or even worse, pull an all-nighter). However, stress and lack of sleep reduce the function of their immune systems; they often get sick and fall further behind as a result. Planning ahead and sleeping well is the better choice. You should try to maintain a regular sleep cycle. Choose a time to get up every morning and then school day or weekend get up within an hour of that time. You will be most refreshed when you wake up as close to the same time every day as possible. In fact you might find that you no longer need an alarm clock because you will naturally wake up at the right time. If you need to catch up on sleep, it is much better to go to bed earlier and wake up at the normal time than sleep in. There is no way to get around sleeping well. Reference: AAF Cross Country 5. Basics of Running Physiology To live, the human body needs energy; the more active the person is, the more energy is required. All energy in your body is produced by the breakdown of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), a complex molecule in your body. There is enough ATP in your body to all-out sprint for about ten seconds. (This means in races, you can and should sprint for the first ten seconds.) After those ten seconds, your body must make ATP in other ways. There are a lot of steps in the making of ATP from the food you eat. Your body gets energy from your food. One way it stores energy is in fat cells. Another way it stores energy is in glycogen in your liver and muscles. This second system is very important for running. Glucose, the primary source of fuel for all body cells is derived mainly from carbohydrates. Glucose that is not used immediately is stored as glycogen in your liver and muscles. As you run and use up the immediately accessible glucose, your body converts glycogen back to glucose in several ways. This glucose is used in the production of ATP. There are two ways that ATP can be made from glucose: anaerobically (without oxygen) and aerobically (with oxygen). Your body breaks glucose down to pyruvic acid and ATP in an anaerobic process. Then your body also begins breaking down the pyruvic acid to ATP. This process requires oxygen. If you are using up oxygen faster than you are breathing it in, the decomposition of pyruvic acid to ATP is incomplete and lactic acid (that obnoxious stuff that makes your muscles burn) is a product. Success in long distance and Cross Country running is primarily a function of your body’s ability to produce energy aerobically. There are two primary limits on aerobic performance: (1)VO2 max and (2)lactic threshold. Your VO2 max is the measure of the maximum amount of oxygen that you can utilize for aerobic energy production over a given period of time. More simply, VO2 max tells you how much oxygen you can use each minutes. The higher, the better. Besides the amount of oxygen available, another limiting factor is how efficiently your body uses available oxygen. Your lactic threshold measures this factor by saying at what level of exertion you are using up oxygen faster than you are getting it. As mentioned above, above this level lactic acid begins to accumulate in your body. Both of these limits have to be determined in a laboratory setting. However, it is useful to know the terminology because it is used so often. Through specific training both measures can be improved. In particular, we do speed work to improve VO2 max. Long distance runs, tempo runs, and increased mileage all will improve your lactic threshold. As a result, you can run faster, farther, and stronger. 6. Scoring A Cross Country Race In a Cross Country race each team runs between 5 and 7 runners. Points are awarded to those individual runners equal to the position in which they cross the finish line (first place gets 1 point, second place gets 2 points, etc). The team score is the sum of the places of the top five runners on that day, and the low score wins. (Thus the lowest possible score is 15. This is generally referred to as a "sweep"). You may ask why there are seven on a team if only the top five score. The answer is two-fold. First, it is not always possible to anticipate who the fastest five runners will be on a given day. If a usually faster runner has a bad race, the other members of the team can pick up the slack. Second, the sixth and seventh runners have a special job of their own. The job of the sixth and seventh runners is to displace scoring runners on other teams. For each scoring runner on another team a sixth or seventh place runner displaces, the other team's score increases by one point. In close races this is incredibly important. Also, in the event of a tie between teams (which is not uncommon in larger races) the tie is broken based on the place of the sixth runner. The scoring of dual meets, cluster meets, and invitationals is all the same. The following example should illustrate the scoring of meets and the importance of all seven runners. The team score is usually reported something like this: Red Team 36 1 4 5 12 14 (15) (16) The first column gives the name of the team. The second column gives the team score and a latter column gives the places of the seven runners, usually putting the scores of the sixth and seventh runners in parenthesis. Here is a race example: 1 Blue Team 36 2 7 8 9 10 (11) (13) 2 Red Team 36 1 4 5 12 14 (15) (16) 3 Green Team 63 3 6 17 18 19 (20) (21) Notice that the Red Team and Blue Teams both have the same score, however the Blue Team wins because their sixth place runner finished in 11th place, beating the Red Team’s sixth place runner. Notice how the scores would change if the Blue team did not field a sixth or seventh runner. 1 Red Team 33 1 4 5 11 12 (13) (14) 2 Blue Team 36 2 7 8 9 10 3 Green Team 57 3 6 15 16 17 (18) (19) The sixth runner on Blue Team beat both the fourth and fifth scoring runners on the Red Team adding two points to their score and likewise the seventh runner beat the fifth scoring runner adding a point. Without these two runners, the Blue Team loses by three points to the Red Team. (So for those of you who find yourself as the sixth or seventh runners on team in a competition, your performance matters to the team! Stay strong!) 7. Post-Season During the season the athletes will compete in two different types of meets in the regular season. First they will compete in invitationals against many different schools in Southern California. Second they will compete in two league meets to determine if Calvary Chapel makes it to CIF-SS Prelims. We are in the Orange Coast league with four other teams for a total of five schools. These schools are Laguna Beach HS, Costa Mesa HS, Estancia HS and Godinez HS. We will have two meets with all of these teams. In the first cluster meet the athletes will familiarize themselves with the course and also get to check out their competition. The second cluster meet is League Finals. All athletes will compete at league finals. (And just so you all know, league finals is technically a post-season race, so congratulations, you made it to the post-season!) League awards will be given to the top finishers in every race. The top three varsity teams will advance to CIF Prelims on the following Saturday. The league can also send a maximum of three unattached runners to CIF Prelims if each finishes in the top six of his respective race. The season is over after League Finals for all who are not placed on the post-season roster. For each varsity team (men’s and women’s) that qualifies for CIF Prelims, we will choose nine runners for the post-season roster. These athletes will continue to practice until the team is eliminated from play-offs. On the following Saturday seven of the qualifying athletes will compete at the CIF-SS Prelims against other schools in our division in the Southern Section. Divisions are based on school size. Division I: 2650 and above Division II : 2150-2649 Division III: 1251-2149 Division IV: 501-1250 Division V: 1-500 The top 13 teams as well as the top 24 individuals qualify for CIF-SS Finals. There are multiple heats so we won’t know how we need to place until the week before CIF Prelims. The teams and individuals that qualify for CIF-SS Finals will run in a single heat for each division. The top seven teams in each division of the Southern Section qualify for CIF State Finals. Of the top 20 runners, the top 5 individual also qualify for the state meet. At the state meet, qualifiers will compete against teams and individuals from all across California. There are ten sections, of which the Southern Section is most competitive. Teams qualifying from the Southern Section finals tend to do very well at State Finals. After State Finals, the season is over for everybody.