The summer before my freshman year, I moved from Lampeter Strasburg SD to Warwick, which meant that I would be running for a new team with completely different coaches and teammates. LS has always had a history of strong team culture, which was something I noticed immediately when I started running with them. So, when I switched teams and realized Warwick wasn’t similar to LS in that way, I was surprised. The problem wasn’t with the coaches or my teammates. The problem was a team culture, or lack thereof, that had been heading in the wrong direction for years. Instead of feeling like an actual team, we often felt segregated: the coaches from the athletes, varsity from JV, and even the girls’ team from the boys’ team. A strong team culture is important to the success of a team, and in our case, it showed (and not in a good way). That season, I watched teams like LS, Manheim Township, and Hempfield, who worked and raced as teams, not as individuals. The team results always proved my theory right; that runners who focused more on their teams than themselves not only found more success with their teams, but also as individuals. So, after freshman year, I made it my goal to leave my team better than it was when I started. I wanted to write this because I know Warwick isn’t the only team that has struggled with building a team culture, and I know other people look at successful teams and wish they could be a part of something like that. Changing a team culture is a slow process and we still have a long way to go, but I can say that Warwick is a completely different team than it was three years ago. Our friendships and the trust that we have in each other have grown greatly, and I believe that will show when race day comes.
My coach created a training plan that takes athletes of all different ability and experience and he places them in a system of levels 1-11, with mileage progressively increasing at every level. By the end of May, I was training at level 3, which averages about 15 miles/week. I’ve also been cross training (biking mostly), and lifting regularly.