Cross-country: runners spend the summer preparing in different ways for the fall season


Edward Little’s Payton Bell runs down Spring Road in Auburn on Wednesday afternoon in the pouring rain. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

During the summer, the best distance runners waste no time getting to work.

Preparation for the fall season begins months earlier. Many distance runners are also distance runners during the outdoor track and field season. When this season ends, the next begins – even if there are a few months between competitions.

Mt. Blue coach Kelley Cullenberg gives his runners packages at the end of the school year in June with suggested workouts they can complete five or six days a week.

“Usually on the 4th of July we get together on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and it’s really casual,” Cullenberg said. “We’ve been doing it for years, and it’s a lot easier to get out there and run when you know other people are doing it too.”

Logan Ouellette senior of Leavitt, runner-up in class B cross country last year, spoke with new head coach Jenniffer Perron in the spring, and she provided him with a training schedule.

“I’m really excited,” Ouellette said. “We have a new coach and she wants to be really aggressive with this program, and I’m really excited for that too.”

Payton Bell, a senior at Edward Little, has been in contact with the Red Eddies’ new cross country coach, Katie Byrne, all summer as she prepares for her senior high school cross country season.

Leavitt’s Logan Ouellette competed in the KVAC Cross Country Championship last October at Cony Middle and High School in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Athletes approach their summer in different ways, due to schedules and interests, but they all have the fall season in mind.


Ouellette says he runs about 25 to 30 miles a week.

He started each week with a long run on Monday. These are initially about 5 miles long and by late summer they reach about 9 miles.

Ouellette trained on Tuesdays, then returned to interval races on Wednesdays. He trained again on Thursday before racing at longer intervals on Friday. On weekends, he did what he wanted, either a cross-training session or a run.

“I was biking, hiking, doing stand-up paddleboarding and sometimes hitting the rowing machines,” Ouellette said. “If I was on the board, I would be surfing too. I think it helps a lot with endurance and gives your body a break from running. I was able to enjoy other things like surfing and mountain biking. It was good to get up, but still enjoy these things during the summer.

Mt. Blue cross country runners Nora McCourt, Cyrus Evans and Henri McCourt trained at Mt. Blue High School in Farmington earlier this week. Adam Robinson/Sun Diary

Mt. Blue’s senior twins, Nora and Henri McCourt, both made sure to run, but this summer they also went mountain biking, hiking and roller skiing to train for the season. Nordic skiing.

Henri said he averages 20-30 miles of running a week, while Nora averages 15-20 miles.

“I used to run a lot, but I like mountain biking a lot, so I did a few bike races,” said Henri McCourt. “I also roller-skied. I was pretty busy, lots of traveling to see family and going to camps. I was able to attend a few summer practices, but I must have missed a few. I worked in a mountain bike camp for two weeks, during which in those two weeks I was still doing a bit of running in the mornings and evenings, but that was two weeks of lots and lots of biking.

Nora McCourt has also been mountain biking often, and it came in handy during a road race this summer.

“They work on their quads a lot when they’re working in the hills, and just the technical part, in terms of confidence, helps,” Cullenberg said. “I was talking to Nora about running, and she did a 10K in New Hampshire and she was talking about going downhill and how she liked that the footing wasn’t good. If you can go in with certainty that the footing is no good, you’ve already got a head start.

Cyrus Evans, a Mt. Blue senior, and Edward Little’s Bell have focused primarily on running this summer.

Evans said he was trying to hit 40 miles a week, while Bell said she was around 25 to 30. Bell suffered a knee injury sustained during the Bradbury Scuffle 6 mile race in early July, but she worked on it and maintained her goal. putting in base miles in preparation for the season.

Edward Little’s Payton Bell awaits the start of practice Wednesday afternoon on Spring Road in Auburn. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

“During the summer, I just like to do base miles,” Bell said. “Usually it’s about 30 miles a week and I run slowly. Maybe once every two weeks I’ll have a quick run or track workout, but usually I’m just trying to rack up the miles.

Byrne added that Bell, who finished seventh in the Class A Championship a year ago, works full time and sometimes misses practices during the summer, but the Eddies’ new coach said she never had to worry that Bell wouldn’t practice at another time.

Same with Evans, who has been traveling this summer, visiting colleges and going to road races. He didn’t miss many practices, but when he did, he still got his groceries.

In addition to following Cullenberg’s race plan, Evans, who placed 17th in the Class A championship competition last year, has also focused on bodybuilding this summer.

“As far as training goes, I’ve been with the team three days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, doing routine workouts,” Evans said. “It ranges from a few kilometers to long runs. Personally, I’ve taken a lot of college trips and run errands in small towns. It’s been my summer lately. They have been great and I have improved my times since the start of the season last year. I’m a low mileage runner, so I usually don’t go over 50, and 40 is usually the mark I want to hit.

Cullenberg noticed that the work was paying off for Evans, who arrived in Mt. Blue last summer from Nevada.

“I feel where he is right now; from where he was last year at this point, he’s already running faster,” Cullenberg said. “He has a better base because he’s not on the move.”

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