Building Teamwork

10 Rules to Run By from “Coaching Cross Country Successfully”
by Joe Newton, with Joe Henderson; Human Kinetics 1998

  1. Team is the essence of life. It’s how to blend the talents and strengths of individuals into a force that becomes greater than the sum of its parts.
  2. Great teamwork is the only way to reach your ultimate moments, to create breakthroughs that fill your life with a sense of lasting significance.
  3. Everyone is a team player, whether he knows it or not. His family, his workplace, his place of worship, his neighborhood functions as a team.
  4. However, teamwork isn’t simple. In fact, it can be a frustrating, elusive commodity. That’s why there are so many bad teams, stuck in neutral or going downhill. Teamwork does not appear magically just because we talk about it.
  5. Forty years of coaching have proved to me, over and over again, that the complex inner rhythms of teamwork (flows of ambition, power, cooperation, and emotion) are the keys to making dreams come true.
  6. People are territorial animals. We all want to take out something to call our own. We strike back when our turf is threatened. Don’t smother those territorial and competitive instincts. Harness them for the good of the team. Understand that sometimes the individual must give up some territory for the good of the team.
  7. Willing sacrifice is a great paradox. Runners mostly give up something in in the present (comfort, ease, recognition, hair, rewards, and so on) to attract something even better in the future: a sense that they did something that counted.
  8. A team needs a covenant, an agreement that binds people together. Sometimes a covenant is written. Sometimes it is unspoken, complete expressed through action or thought. Any team afflicted with the DISEASE OF ME functions with a tacit covenant of self-destruction.
  9. There are only two options regarding commitment to a good covenant. Team members are either in, or they are out. There is no such thing as life in-between.
  10. Being ready isn’t enough. Runners have to be prepared. Being prepared demands mental and physical conditioning and conscious planning. A runner who is just ready and not totally prepared simply increases risk and is a liability to the team.


Get Your Mind Racing

KEY: long before race day, begin to focus your mind’s eye on your goal. Visualizing success can help you attain it.

Racing isn’t the be-all end-all of running. Entering races, however, remains a potential peak experience that too many runners miss because they don’t do enough prerace “headwork.” Whether your goal is to run a personal best time or merely to finish your race, proper mental preparation will help you accomplish it.

Too often runners spend hours training their bodies, only to line up on race day and suddenly find themselves overwhelmed with fears and questions: How fast should I start? Where are the hills, and how bad are they? Where is the finish, and what is it like? Here are a few tips to help you develop a positive mental attitude about running a race. (more…)

Do’s & Dont’s for Parents

Rob Bethmann of Arlington, Texas reached out to MileSplit to offer a few words of wisdom about the recruiting process from a parent’s perspective. He is the father of Cade Bethmann, who improved his 800m time from 1:57.51 as a sophomore to 1:52.4 as a junior and placed third at the Texas State Championship. The senior at Arlington Martin High School committed to Ole Miss in November.

Here are a few thoughts from track dad Rob:

This is supposed to be fun, but it won’t always feel fun.

There is a business aspect to college track and field and you need to face that reality quickly in the process. Schools can give 12.6 scholarships for men and 18 scholarships for women.  There is no limit on roster size, so schools can put 50 athletes on the roster and then divide the scholarships however they’d like.


Timing Your Fuel

Cross Country Nutrition Answers to questions you might have about fueling for the season
 Nutrition is one of the most modifiable and controllable factors in athletic success, but too often it’s also the most ignored. Paying special attention to good sports nutrition, especially starting at a young age, may be the key to reaching new heights. The following are some of the questions that I’ve been asked, and have asked myself, through my years of training.




Any athletes meeting the following requirements may earn a Varsity Letter:

  • A member of the team in good standing.
  • Maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 and meet academic eligibility.
  • Score at least 6 points in a season at league meets.
  • Compete in CIF or selected as an alternate for the postseason.
  • Make any of the All-Time lists.
  • A senior athlete who has participated in Track and Field for 3 or more years. This athlete must be in good standing.  Participating for 3 years does not guarantee a Varsity letter.
  • Coaches may, with Athletic Director’s approval, issue letters in “special” circumstances to athletes who have given exemplary service.


Pins & Medals

Ideas For How To Display Your Running Race Bibs And Medals

Being in Cross County you will collect lots of Running Bibs, and perhaps, race shirts. Most runners hang onto the race bibs and medals as a keepsake to commemorate the races they’ve run.

But the medals hang on the end of a curtain rod on your bedroom and the bibs are pinned to the wall, or shoved in various shoe boxes and drawers around your house.

Below are some great ideas of how to display your accomplishments! (more…)

Iron Deficiency

Low ferritin and iron deficiency anemia in distance runners: A scientific guide for athletes and coaches.

When I see a runner getting fatigued early on in workouts or struggling mightily in races for no good reason, there’s one potential cause I always consider first: low iron. Iron deficiency is a significantly underdiagnosed problem in distance runners. Low levels of hemoglobin in the blood, or low levels of the iron storage protein ferritin, can have a profoundly negative impact on your ability to have successful workouts and races.

Hemoglobin is the main building block for red blood cells, which carry oxygen from your lungs to your muscles. If you don’t have enough hemoglobin, you can’t make enough red blood cells, and as a result, your distance running performance will suffer. Furthermore, research and practical coaching experience suggests that low ferritin levels can cause poor performance, even when hemoglobin levels are normal.

We’ll take a close look at the science behind low iron and distance running performance, then analyze the best ways to treat and prevent iron deficiency in runners. (more…)

Running & Busting

You head out the door for an eight-mile run. Right from the start, your energy level is down, and your legs feel heavy.  After 2 miles of uncharacteristic drudgery, you stop-then jog and walk home.

What’s the problem?

Could be low iron. Iron is vital to running and performance.
Despite this importance, many runners do not monitor their body’s iron levels. Even many physicians do not understand the complete role of iron for endurance athletes. (more…)

Running Shoes

A runner’s best friend

The most important equipment for a cross country athlete is a good pair of running shoes.

There are a variety of shoes to choose from and it can become very confusing trying to select a shoe. The following tips will be helpful when selecting a pair of running shoes.

1. Communicate your needs – tell the salesperson you are a beginning runner and are looking for a distance running shoe for the sport of cross country (you do not want a cross-training shoe). You will be running on a variety of surfaced (asphalt, cement, grass, dirt, etc.) and will be running between 15-30 miles a week. (more…)

Daily Routine for Optimum Health and Performance

This routine will increase energy, mood, alertness and productivity during the day not just for workouts but for your other activities. It will keep your appetite and sugar cravings under control and prepare you for a night of restful sleep.

Time meals and snacks 2-3 hours prior to exercise

Eat “good” carbs every 3-4 hours

After a moderate to hard exercise, eat a snack with carbohydrates (more…)