With the cross country seasons in the rearview mirror, the Yale men’s and women’s track and field teams are shifting training regimens as they turn their focus to the fast approaching indoor season.
The distance runners of both squads are in recovery from a trying fall schedule that only just wrapped up on Nov. 29 after the women’s team and men’s cross country captain, James Randon ’17, competed in the NCAA Cross Country Championships.
The Bulldogs now look to pivot their attention to the coming months of indoor training and work to make improvements upon last year’s performance at the upcoming Ivy League Indoor Heptagonal Championship on Feb. 27 and 28 at Cornell.
“Our goal [at Heps] every year is always to score more points and place higher than we did the previous year, [and to] always to get as many people on the podium as we can,” women’s track and field captain Kate Simon ’17 said. “We graduated a lot of strong athletes last year but brought in a really strong group of freshmen this year, so I’m really optimistic.”
Simon, who is a thrower and thus did not compete during the cross country season, highlighted the distance runners’ second consecutive second-place finish at the Ivy League cross country championship as reason for her confidence. She added that their season was “inspiring” and that she hopes the team can carry the momentum from the fall into the brief winter season.
Cross country captain Frances Schmiede ’17, who has competed in the mile during past indoor seasons, echoed that sentiment. She expressed hope that the Elis will recover from last winter’s eighth place finish at the Ancient Eight indoor track and field championship.
“I think we can improve over last year,” Schmiede said. “Obviously, because we were last, there’s only really one way to go from there. Hopefully we’ll move up.”
Schmiede, like Simon, pointed to the new freshmen on the team as reason to expect a better indoor season. Schmiede added that this year’s new class of runners is larger than those in the past and that the increase in competitors could make a “huge difference” in the team’s chances of success.
Like the women’s team, the men’s track and field squad will anticipate much room for improvement following its seventh-place finish, the first non last-place score since 2009, at last year’s conference indoor championships.
Randon, who runs the mile and the 3000-meter, said that he too hopes the team can improve off of last year’s performance in the Ivy League. The senior — who most recently won the individual title at the 2016 Ivy League cross country championships and represented Yale at the national championship meet — said he anticipates some of the freshman records to be broken, adding the possibility that the Elis could send either a relay or individual to compete at the NCAA National Indoor Championship.
For distance runners like Randon, the changeover from fall to winter training marks a change in both regimen and mindset. Randon said that for distance runners December is one of the few months during the school year when the team “has time to breath” and is not working toward an impending championship.
He added that training becomes more independent and individualized as different members of the team now prepare for individual events of varied distances, whereas the entire men’s team runs in the same 8,000-meter race throughout the cross country season.
“Cross country is definitely more of a team mentality,” distance runner Andre Ivankovic ’17 said. “Track [is] more about cheering on individuals in their event and encouraging them to do well to contribute to the overall score of the team. It’s definitely more individual.”
Ivankovic pointed out that most of the Bulldogs who competed in the fall will not begin competing in races until January. When they do, however, they will train in shorter intervals than they did in the fall and prioritize speed rather than endurance.
Meredith Rizzo ’17, a distance runner on the women’s team, spoke to the importance of rest and focus for runners who compete for conference titles in each of the cross country, winter track and spring track seasons.
“It is really important to stay focused on rest and recovery during this time so that any issues that might have come up during cross country can be resolved, and so that we can carry the base that we have worked so hard to put down during cross country,” Rizzo said. “It’s important to go into [the track season] with sound mind and body.”
She added that the three seasons are not independent of one another: She and teammates are continually looking ahead and working to maintain perspective on repercussions from one season to the next.
Both the men’s and women’s teams begin their indoor track seasons with the Yale Season Opener at Coxe Cage on Saturday.