Going the extra mile: ISU cross country steps up training, prepares for nationals


Redshirt senior Katy Moen races the final of stretch of the Big 12 Championships on Nov. 1.

Kyle Heim

A map may suggest otherwise, but the route the ISU women’s cross-country team is taking to Terre Haute, Indiana has been right on course.

The route has included 75 to 85 miles of training each week or more for runners with more experience like redshirt senior Katy Moen. Even though the runs typically begin and end in Ames, the ultimate destination for Iowa State is the National Championships in Terre Haute.

Moen said her mileage number has increased from summer to summer, and that the number of miles each person runs depends on how prone to injury they are, as well as how well they handle preventative strategy like stretching.

“I worked my way up,” Moen said. “I was barely running in high school compared to everyone coming in now. Luckily, 85 [miles] has worked for me, and this season I’ve been able to keep it there for the most part.”

Included with training, the team has taken trips to Minneapolis, Minnesota, Madison, Wisconsin and Lawrence, Kansas to compete in the Roy Griak Invitational, Wisconsin Adidas Invitational and Big 12 Championships.

The performances the team displayed during competitions begin with the training that lead up to each meet.

Iowa State’s top runner this season, Crystal Nelson, said ISU coach Andrea Grove-McDonough gave her a rough running guideline of 65 to 70 miles each week. Nelson added that the number of miles changes during weeks leading up to a race.

“This past week, I only ran 58 miles for the week because we had a race,” Nelson said. “Race days are usually low per mileage because our race is only four miles.”

The mileage also varies among each runner. More experienced runners on the team typically run more than first- and second-year runners.

“The longer the distance they race, in general the more they train,” said ISU assistant coach Will Palmer. “Generally, the global volume of their training is higher both with the event they run and their training age. A freshman is going to run substantially less than a fifth-year senior like Katy Moen.”

Runners on the team said the mileage they run during training benefits them both physically and mentally.

“If I can go out and run 10 miles or 14 miles for a long run, I know I can accomplish four miles without a problem,” Nelson said.

As the days of the cross-country season continue to decrease, so will the amount of miles for each runner. Palmer said during the last few weeks of the season the mileage will drop between 20 and 25 percent of what each runner’s peak mileage had been.

Iowa State will compete in the NCAA Midwest Regional in Peoria, Illinois on Nov. 14. The team needs a third-place-or-higher finish to advance to the NCAA Championships on Nov. 22.