Broughton High cross country coach David Christian said his boys really don’t train as much as some people believe.
“But when we train,” he said, “we train.”
The Caps boys runners log about 50 miles a week during the season, but the mileage is done at a fast pace.
The formula has worked for Christian and his troops. If the Caps win the 2013 N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A title, as expected, it will be the program’s third straight state cross country championship and the fifth state crown since Christian moved down the street to nearby Broughton from N.C. State, where he ran track and cross country.
“We’ve found something that we believe in, and we stick with it,” he said. “Our kids have a lot of confidence in that if we train correctly, we will improve. There are lots of ways to go faster, but this way works for us.”
Christian was a three-time state cross country champion at Owensboro (Ky.) Daviess County High. He said he still benefits from the instruction he received from his high school coach, Tony Rowe, and later from N.C. State’s Rollie Geiger.
“I think I ran for two of the best distance coaches in the country,” Christian said. “But it’s like I tell the kids, ‘I’m not the runner anymore. You are. You’ve got to do the training.’”
Christian said he believes cross country boils down to the three Ts – talent, toughness and training.
“You can’t control talent,” Christian said. “Some people have more talent for running cross country than others. But you can control your toughness and your training. When you are running beside another runner, who is going to be the toughest and who has done the best training? That’s what it usually comes down to.”
A runner like Broughton’s Megan Sullivan, the 2012 N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A champion, has all three of the Ts. “She has unusual talent; she is going to train exactly like you tell her, and she’s incredibly tough,” he said.
Other runners get by more on the toughness and training.
Christian said he has a talented bunch this year. The boys want to defend their state title and eventually advance to the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Ore., on Dec. 7.
To get to the nationals, the Caps would have to qualify in the Southeast Regional on Nov. 30 at Cary’s WakeMed Soccer Park and top the best teams from Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.
“The ultimate goal is to defend our state championship,” he said. “But if we can get that, we can look at other goals.”