Coach Hardt's Program Off And Running

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Chuck Hardt is inviting teenagers interested in running to join his program.

"If you enjoy it and want to get better, try out for the team," he said. "Or, if you just want to train so you can be healthier? Cross country is for you."

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The Payson High School cross country team has been successful mostly because of an off-season program that has the athletes running and conditioning throughout the summer.

But before athletes turn out for the Longhorn squad Aug. 9 when preseason practice officially begins, the coach wants the fledgling runners to participate in summer workouts.

"You win championships in the fall, but they are earned in the summer," he said. "You get out of it what you put into it."

This summer's training program will include a pair of former Lady Longhorn running stars -- Jenny Cohen and Rachelle Jones.

"I'm calling them my graduate assistants," Hardt said. "They should be a big help to the younger kids."

Prospective runners interested in trying out for cross country will be given a regimented training program that details the distances and paces they should be running.

The off-season program, Hardt says, will help the team reach its goals of winning the Grand Canyon regional championship Oct. 30 and the track and field crown May 7, 2005.

An important part of the summer training is commitment.

"Set some goals and go for it," Hardt said. "You can be a great runner if you are willing to sacrifice some time and be consistent."

In the program, inexperienced freshmen or beginning runners should set a goal of 25 miles per week by mid-July and 30 miles after that.

"Remember you need to be patient, dedicated and consistent if you wish to be competitive and run fast times," he said.

In Hardt's training scheme, the more experienced runners should stretch, run 35 to 45 miles per week and participate in strength training two or three days a week.

Each athlete's summer workout also should include what Hardt calls "running at pace." That refers to speed work in which the athlete runs about three-mile distances at a speed he or she would do if competing.

"Start easy and build your strength and speed over the summer," he said.

"Don't overtrain. Take an extra day off once in a while if you feel the need."

He also advises runners to consume plenty of fluids, avoid running alone, eat nutritious meals and run on soft surfaces as much as possible.

In addition to the summer training agenda, on tap for the prospective runners is the coach's annual Summer Burger Bash, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. July 5 at the Hardt home.

"We cookout hamburgers and also watch a movie," the coach said.

Off-season work for the cross country team members wraps up Aug. 7 at the Monsoon 5K.

"Our team club will pay the entry fee for all our members who want to run in it" Hardt said.

The coach also reminds all prospective runners that they must have their paperwork completed and on file in the office of PHS Athletic Director Dave Bradley before they can practice with the team.

For more information on the cross country program, call Hardt at (928) 474-5570.

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