North Shore girls on the right track
No record is safe when the North Shore girls toe the line.
With a little more than a month gone in the indoor track season, the Vikings have relied on their deep distance squad to run circles around the competition. It's as if the Vikings haven't missed a step from their Nassau championship cross-country season last fall.
The secret to their success? A training regimen that seems more fit for running those cross-country 5ks than for indoor miles.
"Nobody believes us, but we've actually been doing a lot of long, slow distance," North Shore's Samantha Nadel said. "We are getting some hills work in, but it's been mostly distance so far."
While most teams will balance their distance workouts with speed training early in the season, the North Shore girls have stuck almost exclusively to long-distance runs.
The length of each workout is different for each age group. Seniors like Nadel and Brianna Nerud, for instance, will run for longer periods of time than underclassmen. The Vikings also shy away from the traditional interval speed training in favor of rapid-fire hill workouts and stride exercises.
"It helps give us the strength that we need to push forward as the season goes on," Jessica Donohue said.
Those slow distance workouts have paid off so far. The Vikings have broken records in nearly every meet they've run this year.
It started at the Jim Mitchell Invitational on Dec. 16. Nadel, Nerud, Donohue, and Elizabeth Caldwell etched their names into the history books with a win in the 4 x 1,500-meter relay. The quartet won in 18:50.91, shattering the five-year-old national record set by Greenwich (N.Y.) by more than 25 seconds.
Eleven days later, North Shore broke Bay Shore's eight-year-old Long Island record in the distance medley relay at the Marine Corps Holiday Classic. This time, the team of Nerud, Lea Farrell, Caldwell, and Nadel clocked 11 minutes, 43.23 seconds -- .27 seconds faster than Bay Shore's mark.
Since then, Nadel broke the Armory record in the mile (4:46.11), and both Nadel and Nerud qualified for the girls mile in February's Millrose Games -- an event that Nadel won last year.
Not bad for a team that came into the indoor season with a chip on its shoulder. North Shore finished ninth at the Nike Cross Nationals in early December. Most teams would consider that a success, but not the Vikings.
"We were really disappointed with our national performance," Nerud said. "So we used that as motivation for the winter season."
But even then, the girls had no idea that they would get out to such a strong start this early in the season. "I don't think we expected it," Donohue said of the 4 x 1,500 record. "We knew that we had a chance, that the possibility was there, but we never really went in thinking we would break the record."
Coach Neal Levy says that the girls are on the right track and expects even bigger things down the line. "They're making forward progress as compared to last year," Levy said.
"We're exactly where we want to be."
Meanwhile, the team is just excited to see where this run of success will take them.
Said Donohue, "It just shows that there's more to come later on in the season."