Lakeside Cross Country Takes Off


Lakeside Cross Country started their last season coached by Richard Barbe with a bang. The team loaded up and headed to “Early Bid” at five A.M. to compete in a three-mile race at the start of their racing season in late August. Varsity boys and girls took fifth place on the two-lap course at their first invitational meet; this flat and speedy course helped both new and returning runners set personal records, which set the season off to a strong start. To the observer, cross country runners seem calm, cool, and collected as they dash through the woods, but in reality their lungs wheeze and their legs burn with every mile. Runners must overcome the mental struggle of running to gain strength and endurance. Runners must commit to the sport in order to reach their full potential and their dedication showed all throughout the summer. The team met up at Lakeside’s track by 8 A.M. weekly to build up their endurance in order to transition to more speed based training by mid-August. “[The biggest challenge] is not quitting,” said Sophomore Mason Mihalis. Cross Country runners must stay consistent in their training in order to improve and remain in shape.

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On the Jog: The Cross Country team makes it a goal to run with a purpose to every destination. From progressive warm up laps, dynamic warm ups, to high intensity interval training, the opportunities to ‘focus on form’ never end. Paying attention to technical factors help lower the chances of an injury. Making sure to strike the foot midsole decreases stress on the knees and helps the runners keep a steady momentum.

Photo by: Sontai-Blu Boyd

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The terrain changes, the heat changes, and most importantly the speed changes during each and every practice. “You don't have to run, you get to run,” Coach Barbe stresses to the team at the start of practice. The team then splits off into three groups for races and training sessions: Varsity, JV, and Open. This system remains flexible throughout the season and makes it possible for runners to move up within the ranks as their speeds fluctuate. The sport lacks a uniform landscape which makes it challenging to compare certain races. Their second race labeled “Double Dip”at Marist exemplified how some runners fare better at different courses due to the variety and their skill sets. This course spikes from soccer-field flat to a series of non-stop steep hills in each mile, making three miles far more challenging than their usual. “Knowing that I will improve keeps me going because I always like getting better,” said Junior Oliver Kroll. The team cannot cut runners for not meeting a specific time, but the difficulty of the sport itself cuts people who cannot commit to the uphill and downhill battles of training. Training involves more than running. The captains incorporated a new focus on strength based training at each practice to help build up the core, arm, ankle and other muscles necessary for racing.

“[Cross Country] gives me a sense of purpose and discipline,” said Junior Erin Allen. Runners can also be spotted ‘hydrating or die-drating’ to get at least 8 bottles of water by their last class of the day. Runners need to get their water intake in order to avoid heat exhaustion and dehydration from working out in the hottest hours of the day. Dehydration leads to fatigue which can lead to an unsuccessful day of training. Training stretches past the teams practice hours and includes eating healthy food, resting for eight hours, and rolling out the muscles to prevent injury. The team also cross trains in the pool to work out muscles not used while running and to cool off after a successful day in the sun.

Work Hard, Stretch Harder: The team recovers by going through the ritual stretching routine, following a workout of hill intervals at Druid Hills Middle School; their home course. Each practice ends off with icing the muscles, followed with the traditional LHS chant: LHS, LHS, LHS CC WOO!

Photo by: Sontai-Blu Boyd

While everyone runs individually, the end results turn out to be team based. The first runners to finish score the lowest amount of points, which increases the chance of coming out on top. The last runners to finish earn more points, which can increase the score. Barbe pushes the idea of becoming a ‘Champion’ by going through the trials and errors of competing in races, training to the best of your ability, and finding your pace. This years motivational phrase, ‘No excuses, just do the work,’ encourages the team to stop justifying why they cannot accomplish something by just tackling each task head on . With Barbe still leading the team, expectations remain at all time high to finish off his last season. The season has three races that follow the traditional bracket system in other sports: County championships, Sectionals, and State. All outcomes of meets prior the championship season do not affect these races because the score stand final. Runners continue to train for the races at the end of the season with hopes of ranking high at State.

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