By Billy Goulston and Jordan Odiakosa
After taking two weeks off from track practice to rehearse for the upper school dance concert, Matthew Krumpeâs â08 body shut down. He could no longer run.
Due to intense workouts with the track and field team and a lack of rest, he strained both his calf muscles, causing shooting pains up both his legs into his back and ankle pain.
Several injured students on the upper school track team, mostly with leg injuries, have been unable to participate in meets and practices, some even having to drop out from the team for the entire season.
Track and Field Varsity Head Coach Jonas Koolsbergen said that the track teamâs increase in injuries this season has partly resulted from the recently-installed lacrosse nets. The nets serve to protect runners from getting hit by balls.
âThe new net keeps us off the field which is much softer than the track,â Koolsbergen said.
âThe track is a hard surface and having to do not only our workouts on it, but all of our warm-up and cool down running has taken a definite toll on the legs of our kids.â
Jonathan Cheng â07 also attributes the several injuries to the distance runners to the hard surface on which they run.
Krumpe, a distance runner, also noticed the increase in injuries and believes that the trackâs surface might also have something to do with the injuries.
While not a necessity, the track should be resurfaced soon, he said.
Since most of the track injuries are leg injuries and are exacerbated by the track, those who suffered the most have been long-distance runners, track runner Kathryn Turner â08 said.
Distance coach Geoff Bird understands the natural stress long-distance running takes on a personâs body but does not believe that there is enough evidence to suggest any unusual increase in injuries this year. Often students who believe they are injured actually arenât.
âIn many cases what seems to be an injury is actually tightness that needs to be worked out by regular stretching,â Bird said.
However, there is concrete evidence that several students have been injured and had to drop out of the season.
Turner had to take two months off from the team this season because of her shin injuries, though injuries were not solely caused by any factors this year since she has had them since spring break of last year. As a member of the school track team at Thacher in 10th grade last year, Turner was expected to run at least 30 miles per week. However, her outside-of-school track coach instructed to up her practice to 50 miles per week. The quick transition between her previous training and intensified training took a toll on her legs.
Unlike many other school sports, the track team is expected to consistently run and train outside of school. The athletes usually train without the supervision or guidance of a trainer and often donât understand how to regulate their running schedule.
Turner herself admits she wasnât thinking about âsmart runningâ as the emphasis for the team was purely mileage.
âI didnât really know then,â she said, âbut now I understand that it is necessary to train in waves of intensity with a hard week followed by an easy week in order to ease the stress we put ourselves through.â
Despite the amount of injuries to the team, the track and field team has still experienced success. The biggest problem the track team faces is competing against teams that outnumber them. Generally low numbers every season have further decreased this season due to the injuries. This is particularly true for the boysâ team, who lost by lopsided sums to Loyola and Notre-Dame, two teams that have over a hundred people on their rosters. With the team already hampered by injuries, competing against these teams becomes a real challenge.
At the Mt. SAC Invitational, several key members won or placed in their individual races and several school records were broken. Cheng was able to pull out a win in the 200, and Lizzy Danhakl â07 finished second in the 1600 M race.
âThe team as a whole is doing great,â Cheng said.Â âExpect to see some records broken in the near future.â