The Little Things . . .

a Going the Distance newsletter

Late Mid August 2022 || issue #117
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Angela Berry

[Angela’s first summer in Braz Camp was 2015. She was 15 years old and we ran our program on the fields at Bishop Fenwick High School. As she finished her 8th and final summer with us in preparation for one more soccer season at Salem State, we asked her to reflect on those 8 years.]

Starting Braz Camp when I was 15 I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect but I was happy to be there with most of my high school soccer team. It was a great bonding experience as well as a nice ice breaker.

As the years went on I would always look forward to my summers at Braz Camp eager to continue my fitness journey. Even though it is a lot of hard work and some days may feel really difficult it is always worth it in the end.

The best advice I would give someone who is just starting camp is to keep pushing because you have more in you than you realize. One of the most rewarding things I realized was something we would do after a morning of stations and exercises as one final drill. Everyone would get on the line and it was a sprint up 20 and back 10 for the full length of the field and be done. It always seemed like it was an impossible task after a full morning of drills because we were all so tired yet we always were able to persevere and finish the drill. It goes to show even when you think you think you’re done and can’t do anymore you still have more in the tank than you may realize.

So whatever sport you play (soccer and lacrosse for me) when it comes down to those last 2 minutes of the game just know you have more drive and energy to finish strong than you give yourself credit for.

As for my future career, I am currently in grad school at Salem State University and I will be graduating with a Master's degree in Criminal Justice in the Spring. I have a minor in psychology and I am fascinated by the psychology behind crime and hope to explore that more and find an internship during my final semester.

I am sad to be leaving Braz Camp but I hope to visit and maybe one summer I will be free to help out. I am forever grateful for the 8 years I had at Braz Camp to work hard, better myself, prepare for my Fall soccer season, and create lasting friendships.

[For more on Angela, read her interview from last year at this link.]

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Teams at Braz Camp

There are many good reasons to train in a summer conditioning program with your teammates:

▪ If you’re new to the team, you get to know your teammates, as Angela Berry describes above
▪ If you’re with a team you already know, you can work together on the “little things” that will make you and your team better.
▪ As you train alongside other athletes and teams, you learn the level of conditioning you need once the games and the races start. Your team is not training in its back yard – you’re training with other teams, who are not only your competitors but often your friends.
▪ You can carpool and share rides.
If you’re new to the team, you get to know your teammates, as Angela Berry describes above
If you’re with a team you already know, you can work together on the “little things” that will make you and your team better.
As you train alongside other athletes and teams, you learn the level of conditioning you need once the games and the races start. Your team is not training in its back yard – you’re training with other teams, who are not only your competitors but often your friends.
You can carpool and share rides.

In the Braz Camp cross-country program this summer, in addition to one or several runners from many schools, we had virtually scoring xc teams from Melrose, Central Catholic, St Marys, Bishop Fenwick, Beverly, Hamilton-Wenham, St Johns Prep, and both girls and boys teams from Andover and Peabody.

In the All-Sports program, there were very strong teams from Peabody. And 20 girls from the Bishop Fenwick soccer team trained this summer in Braz Camp.

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Bishop Fenwick soccer players at Braz Camp. Front Row: Joni Caron, Alexa Silva, Taylar Carafa, Celia Krouse, Sam Sharp, Keira Morgan, Anya Moric. Back Row: Mia Zimmerman, Annie Swanson, Shannon Bresnahan, Ava Bellacini, Caillie Reed, McKenna Leaman, Aoife DeClerc, Madison Reilly. Missing from photo: Irene & Kayla Carlin, Katie Cunha, Jillian Chinchillo, Irene Caron

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Ellis Iurilli-Hough

[Ellis writes – “This year I will be a senior at Melrose High School. I first fell in love with running when my friend asked me to come to captain's practice for cross country the summer before my sophomore year. At the time, I did not like running whatsoever, but my teammates, my competitive drive, and my never-ending need to be better helped me thrive in the running community. This year I will be a captain for cross country and track. I plan to run in college, become a marathoner, then graduate to ultramarathoning.

Besides running I love to play music. Currently I play guitar, piano, and percussion in the marching band. This year I will be the founder and president of the Jam Club, a club at my high school for musicians to connect and play music. I also love theater, and acting in shows has been a passion of mine since I was a little kid. I've been nominated for statewide acting awards and performed in more than 30 shows over my lifetime. I love learning and strive to better myself in school and in my community by participating in the National Honors Society, being a Peer Leader for the Melrose Alliance Against Violence, as well as volunteering regularly for events and organizations in the school and my city."]

GTD: Ellis, how many summers have you trained in Coach Braz’s program? What got you started doing it?
Ellis: This was my second summer of training in the Braz program. When my friend and teammate who previously trained at this camp for years before I did told me about it, I decided it could be fun, so I joined and immediately realized how much the training actually helps me before the season.

GTD: Tell us about your running in high school.
Ellis: My first year of running I was rookie of the year on my team and this past cross country season I was team MVP, Middlesex League All-Star, and I led my team to a 5th place finish at the All-State meet.

GTD: The 90+ minute sessions have phases, and each day is different, and each week is different, and progressively more challenging.
Ellis: I think one of the great things about the Braz program is the rate at which we progress from the beginning to the end of the summer. He starts us out at lower volume and each week the duration, difficulty, and type of workout we do vary and get increasingly harder. This does an amazing job of building our aerobic base without burning us out for the upcoming seasons. Personally, I've always been a fan of longer distance-oriented workouts so some of my favorites are usually the tempos from cone-to-cone or the acceleration drills.

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GTD: Is this summer different from last summer?
Ellis: This summer is way different than last summer. Last summer I was convinced the coaches didn't even know my name. And I don't like just being another sheep in the herd. But this summer Braz took me under his wing and told me he wants to see me succeed and I think he sees my passion for the sport and is drawn to that. He now calls/texts almost every day asking how I feel and giving me workout suggestions.

This year he also put me in the group with collegiate athletes. Seeing as I'm the only high schooler at the camp running with the college boys, I think Braz expects me to take things to the next level, which is an opportunity I take in stride. Mac Eon and Mike Brown have been great training partners this year and I've been doing most of my sessions with them. Recently we've been separating from the larger group of boys and doing our own workouts, which are usually tempos or progressions of some sort. It has been fantastic to do these kinds of workouts, not only because they're my favorite and I know they get me into shape for the season, but also because it gives me the confidence that I can stick with the older guys and show them I mean business.

GTD: How do you keep your focus during the sessions?
Ellis: During the sessions I like to stay focused by locking onto the other kids in my group. Now that it's my second year doing the camp, I've come to learn that If I just stick with the front group of guys, I'll have a good workout no matter what. It also helps to not take things so seriously and have some fun while I'm there. Hey, it's the summer, right?

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GTD: Do you have “habits” or routines that you follow on race day or Braz Camp day?
Ellis: I would say I don't have any strict habits on race or camp days. Although I am somewhat superstitious. I always try to get up right when my alarm goes off. I find whatever outfit makes me feel fast that day and I pay attention to how my body feels that particular morning. From there I can then assess how I'm going to go about the rest of my time before camp or the race starts.

GTD: How do you handle nutrition on Braz Camp mornings?. It’s the heat of summer, you’re starting at 8am and you have 90 intense minutes of work.
Ellis: Nutrition is tough in the summer especially because I tend to lose some of my important routine that I have during the school year. If I wake up at 7 a.m., I usually have enough time to eat something small like a protein bar or peanut butter and banana, and drink an electrolyte mix. Sadly, I usually don't have enough time to digest these things before camp starts, but I've come to learn that fuel is crucial before any type of run or else you run the risk of the dreaded crash and burn. After my runs I always eat a protein bar right away and drink plenty of water. Then when I get home I make myself a hardy meal and, If it was a really tough workout, I make a protein smoothie.

GTD: The last phase of each training session is devoted to core work, flexibility, and strength. Tell us about it. What did you like and didn’t like?
Ellis: Luckily I have always been adept when it comes to the "little things.'' I learned from the beginning that keeping up with core, strength training, mobility, and flexibility will make you a better runner, so I've always done my best to keep up with those things. In the past I have had trouble with overdoing it on the little things, which actually harmed me more than it helped, but this summer I've focused on relaxing a little more and just doing what makes me feel strong. I think committing to all these things after runs on camp days is so crucial and it really helps me get stronger and healthier as my season gets closer. I have even taken lots of exercises and routines we do at camp and implemented them into my team's captain's practices back in Melrose.

GTD: What is the most important thing you learn from the summer program?
Ellis: I think the summer program teaches us the importance of summer training, an often overlooked aspect of high school training. Many kids with the potential to be great don't train in the offseason at all, then expect to be good once the fall rolls around. But joining this program allows you to run with other people who will push you and teach you why training in the summer is so important. Not only does it teach you the importance of training, but also how to train properly and succeed in your seasons.

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We had photo choices for Ellis running in high school. Steeplechase? Yes!

GTD: How would you describe the program to a runner who has never done it, but might be interested?
Ellis: I would absolutely recommend the program to anyone without summer training plans. I would describe it as an unconventional, yet effective way to train in the summer. You will get very good base training, learn lots of important information that will help you continue training once the camp is over, and you will meet lots of cool people who will help you get better and reach your full potential. I would also advise anyone joining to get your name in the mix of people at the camp. What I mean by that is, there are a lot of people under Braz's training program, if you really want to become a good runner under training, you can't be afraid to get your feet dirty and toe the line with the big dogs at the camp. Show the coaches what you're made of and they will help you to get where you want to be.

GTD: What are your plans for the upcoming fall, winter, and spring sports seasons?
Ellis: Once the school year starts, I'll be diving headfirst into cross country, marching band, theater productions, school, and figuring out where I want to attend college. The fall will be particularly busy and stressful, but I'm confident that I can keep a level head with my college preparedness and eventually get to winter and spring track with a full head of steam. I'm very excited to continue to reach out to college coaches, visit campuses, and make my final decisions on where I want to commit for the next 4 years of my academic and athletic career.

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To race against The Beasts in the fall, train with them in the summer.

From left: Mike Brown (Andover HS / UMass-Amherst), Mac Eon (Danvers HS /Stonehill College), Riley McGoldrick (Beverly HS), Logan Tracia (Peabody HS), Ellis (Melrose HS), Declan Smith (Peabody HS), Kyle Kwiatek (St Marys, Lynn)

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Previous Issues of The Little Things

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