The Little Things . . .

a Going the Distance newsletter

Early Mid September 2022 || issue #120
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Sarah DiVasta Cracks the Code

[Sarah starts her senior year at Peabody Veterans Memorial High School in September, 2022. She won the Northeast Conference Championship title in cross country last fall, the indoor and outdoor mile for the last two years, and the 2022 D2 indoor mile. She is 12th in her class , a member of the National Honor Society, and she captains the Peabody xc team.]

GTD: Sarah, how many summers have you trained in Coach Braz’s program? What got you started doing it?
Sarah: I have been involved in Braz Camp since the summer before my 8th grade year, making this my 5th year at camp. I first started camp after joining a rec summer running camp. Through this program, I was able to meet Coach Braz and he suggested that the following summer I sign up for Braz Camp instead.

GTD: Tell us about your running in high school.
Sarah: I’ve always preferred track over cross country, especially mid distance races. I will take a shorter but faster race over a longer but slower race any day of the week. While I enjoy the more relaxed racing environment of cross country, I tend to thrive in higher intensity situations. I fell in love with the 1000 my freshman year after I came in 5th at D1 states. It was the perfect distance for what I could handle at the time. Once I was finally able to run outdoors, I found a love for the mile as well. The mile has become my main focus and is definitely my favorite event. I will also run the 800 but the 200 meter difference between that and the 1000 makes a world of difference.

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GTD: Tell us about Braz Camp xc sessions.
Sarah: I really enjoyed Monday workouts. After being at camp for years, I began picking up on the pattern of how Coach Braz runs his weeks. Mondays were a longer warm up run and then drills on the field, Wednesdays were hills, and Fridays were tempo runs or a circuit. The Monday workouts were a nice way to ease into the week and the longer run woke me up before the drills and higher intensity work began. The longer run also allowed me to talk to my friends and catch up about the weekend before we had to focus on the workout. I don’t know if it was always extremely hot on Wednesdays or if I was dreading the Brooksby hills, but I never felt motivated to run the hills. At the end of the day, Coach Braz always put together workouts that kept me on my toes and while there were a few that were not the most enjoyable, I got through it. Running with friends also made the workouts much more tolerable.

GTD: You’ve cracked the code! Although the week’s themselves are progressive from week 1 to 6, the sessions within each week all relate to each other. It’s not random running around!
Sarah: It has taken me years to figure it out but once I figured it out, I felt more prepared for camp because I knew what type of workout to expect.

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Monday warm-up run, catching up with friends

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Wednesday In the dreaded Brooksby apple orchard, with Coach Pete (less dreaded), and Caroline Johnson (Lafayette College)

GTD: How do you keep your focus during the sessions?
Sarah: Keeping focus during the sessions can get difficult especially when you know are friends with most of the people at camp, but I always had Coach Pete to keep me in check. I also found myself zoning out and just focusing on the task at hand with the end goal of getting better in mind.

GTD: Do you have “habits” or routines that you follow on race day or Braz Camp day?
Sarah: I find myself following a similar routine before races and Braz Camp days. Plenty of water, a good dinner, and a good night’s sleep the night before. In the morning before camp or a race, I tend to eat something smaller like toast with peanut butter and some fruit.

GTD: How do you handle nutrition on Braz Camp mornings?.
Sarah: Eating before camp can be difficult. My stomach can get upset if I eat too close to running, so I make sure to give myself at least an hour between eating and running. I also eat something small in the morning, making sure to refuel after camp, along with plenty of water.

GTD: The last phase of each training session is devoted to core work, flexibility, and strength.
Sarah: I have never met a coach who set aside so much time for core work, and hip strength like Coach Braz has. Spending all that time on hips and core has helped me prevent potential injuries before they were able to progress into bigger problems. While core isn’t my favorite thing to do after a hard workout, the benefits outweigh the 10 minutes of hard work, and hip mobility is a nice way to wind down after an intense session.

GTD: What is the most important thing you learn from the summer program?
Sarah: The most important lesson I have learned from Braz Camp is to trust the process. Things may not come easy at first and you may have to work a little harder, but the progress will come. Trusting the training is the best thing you can do and it works itself out in the end. The times get faster and things begin to feel easier without you even realizing it.

GTD: How would you describe the program to a runner who has never done it, but might be interested?
Sarah: The program is not easy, but it is very rewarding. You are pushed to new levels and can often find yourself outside of your comfort zone. You feel good after, and you get to see the progress as you go. The program is 90 minutes of hard work for a year of progress. Camp also allows you to make friends, and there are plenty of people at all different levels, so you will never find yourself running alone.

GTD: What are your plans for the upcoming fall, winter, and spring sports seasons
Sarah: As I head into my final seasons in high school, I am working to have a strong cross country season. I know where I want my times to be, and it's going to be a challenge, but I'm ready for it. I have goals for the winter and spring seasons, and plan to continue chipping away at my mile time. I want to continue to perform well not only at a conference level, but at bigger meets and during championship season. At the end of the year, I want to be happy with my times, and I want to be able to look back on the past 4 years of running knowing that I made so many memories and came so far from the nervous little freshman I was.

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michaela staniec

Michaela Staniec Wins Distance Award

[Years ago many of us drove 2 hours to run a 5k. Why? It was a good race. This summer 100s of athletes woke up early in the morning and headed to Braz Camp. Some had a short trip to get to the Peabody location. But not Michaela Staniec. She lives in Exeter, NH, about 40 miles from Peabody. Her drive each morning -- she drove -- took 45 minutes. Michaela is a captain of the Central Catholic xc team, and obviously a leader. We asked her how her XC Edge summer went.]

It is always tough to live far away since I have to wake up early and eat breakfast in the car, so my breakfast usually doesn’t have time to digest.

It is also hard to connect with people, since I don’t live close to anyone. but it was definitely worth it, because I got to train with great runners and coaches.

This summer I really wanted to improve my running and I knew I wouldn’t push myself hard enough on my own. I decided to go to XC Edge because Coach Madore had told my team that it is a great opportunity to train with other teams and coaches. I am also applying to West Point, and I wanted to be faster and stronger than I have ever been to take my fitness test.

The training was tough, but I knew it would make me a better runner so I pushed through. Overall, I had a great experience. This was my first time at Edge and I was very impressed by the way things were run. I learned a lot about mental toughness and pushing past discomfort.

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Michaela carries the baton in a 4x1 mile relay, and enjoys the apple orchard's hills.

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Running Long

Did you ever hide bottles of water behind stone walls along country roads? Not fancy bottles but used 32oz soda bottles that you filled with water and "planted" the day before your long run. The next morning when your long-run partner (or partners) asked you -- the host for this run -- where the water was, you said "soon" even though you were already 6 miles in and you should have found the water by mile 5. But there are so many stone walls!

Yes, this is long run season. The weather is cooling off. It's not a hot sun but a friendly sun. It's not humid. And it's not snowing.

For some runners, this is marathon training season, with an October or November marathon on the schedule.


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