COLUMBIA — In the next two weeks, Missouri's men and women's cross-country teams are scheduled to travel more than 1,900 miles to compete in two races.
The teams left Thursday evening for Minneapolis to compete in Saturday's Roy Griak Invitational. They are set to return to Columbia before leaving Wednesday for the Notre Dame Invitational in South Bend, Ind.
Sophomore Evan Chiplock said being ready psychologically is the key to racing back-to-back weeks.
"Last year, we didn't do it a lot; I actually don't think we did it at all. We never had a one-week turnaround," Chiplock said. "It is kind of going back to how a lot of high school races were (with races every week). ... It is just going back to that and doing a lot of mental preparation. It is basically about being mentally tough and staying on our A game."
Coach Joe Lynn thinks that, along with being mentally ready, consistency is key in preparing his team for competition.
"A big pillar of our training is being consistent each week," Lynn said. "Our general practice doesn't change each week much at all. Next week will change quite a bit because we usually don't race back-to-back weeks, especially two big races back to back."
Lynn said that when the team returns from Minnesota, the plan is for the runners to rest and make sure they are ready to compete at Notre Dame.
"The key thing is just putting our kids in the position to succeed," Lynn said. "We don't want to put them in a situation that they are not going to feel good about or be ready to compete in a high level. That's our focus — first and foremost. Of course, we still want to work hard. We are not going to back down, but we are going to modify things to put us in the best situation to compete at a high level."
Progression throughout the season has helped the teams continue to compete at a high level. But freshman Kaitlyn Fischer, who was named Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week after her race at Arkansas, said the current progress of the season is difficult to judge.
"It's definitely a little harder to tell," Fischer said. "In high school, we just did the same thing every year, and I would see how I progressed. But this year, we are doing different workouts, 6K, the first race was a 4K, so it's a little different for me. I think I have adjusted pretty well, and my mileage has been bumped up — and I think I have been progressing, I hope. We will see Saturday."
With a deep team, Lynn thinks focus and consistency of workouts will help continue progression into the bigger races of the season. Chiplock thinks the physical and mental preparation, along with the consistency, will help them reach the ultimate goal: NCAA nationals.
"With our program, we really just kind of train through," Chiplock said. "Physical preparation is just the same as it always is — high mileage. We are doing normal workouts because really, our eyes are on the end of the season — eyes on the prize at nationals. We are just training through. For big races, it is more mental. It's prepare yourself because you know you are going to be tired, and you just have to push through. I have been working on that aspect, and so has everyone else."
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