The start of November signifies one thing for Wesleyan cross country runners: Regional Championships are upon them at last. With the race just days away, The Argus caught up with veteran runner Tate Knight ’18 to discuss the upcoming competition, along with the training regiments and team’s transition into the offseason.
The Argus: What is the transition from being in-season to out of season? How does it change the day-to-day, as well as anything else?
Tate Knight: There is not much of a transition. Once the XC season finishes up, we get about a week of “active rest” and then get right into the indoor season. Same for the transition to outdoor. We train under the same coach throughout the year, and we run with the same teammates.
A: Does the team become less of a unit socially now that meets don’t happen and practices are less official?
TK: Nope, indoor meets start up after winter break. Until then, we’re still putting in the mileage and doing the work necessary to race again. If anything, a lack of practice structure encourages us to hang out more during the weekends.
A: There isn’t a “cross country house” like tennis house and baseball house. Are you planning on making one, and what would be the role of that?
TK: As much as we love to go off-the-hinges-wild on weekends and bar night, XC is not super compatible with stimulants, opioids, and depressants. Sure, popping some Adderall before a race is a sure way to PR, but we like to stay true to our bodies. In all seriousness, living with teammates during the season perpetuates hard and honest training, and during the offseason helps with the logistics of hanging out.
A: In the years you’ve been here, how has the team changed, both in terms of personalities and training?
TK: In the past three years we’ve grown only stronger as a team. Literally, we do more pushups and core, mostly to look good and fit when M-Roth sees us jogging down College Row so he knows who “runs” campus. But actually, we know what it takes to go to Nationals, and it’s a matter of everyone on the team buying into the training and lifestyle that will get us onto that line. We make this clear to every recruit so we don’t get any pups who aren’t ready to work hard. It’s a sink or swim environment, like my fish tank when I forget feeding day.
A: Do you think it’s important for the team to have more of a presence on campus, or not really?
TK: There’s not much presence to be had. The most relevant we have ever been is when we tied a phallic-shaped piece of French toast onto a bundle of balloons in Usdan and let it float around. We do what we do for each other, not to get our own brochure that sits on the Freeman desk, not to hang banners in the Field House, not even to get on the record boards. I don’t think campus presence is something we place importance in; we’d rather put our heads down, train, and race.
A: You can host many more parties after the season ends. How has that change been for you in the past?
TK: Going out is a good way to reset mentally before diving into the next season. It’s healthy to de-stress, however that may be. For some, it’s guzzling down doughnuts until the self-disgust puts it to a stop. For others, it’s playing slap-cup and intentionally losing.
A: Are there any recruiting prospects for next year that have you excited?
TK: We’ve had a good amount of kids come through, but we never really know who will come until ED/regular decisions are made. Some kids have been enthusiastic about our program and training, and others just want a school with good academics and to run on the side.
A: Does the team solely recruit actively from high schools, or work to get transfers?
TK: It is rare that a new member of the team is not an incoming freshman. Our coach looks for runners who are so consumed and passionate with their running that they reach out during junior or senior year asking about our program. If a current freshman or sophomore at Wes wants to be on the team, why ask now? There are, of course, the current exceptions of Noah [Langat ’20], a Kenyan freshman who came to Wesleyan and his raw love of running made him a wonderful addition to our team, and Connor [Sexton ’20], a beloved transfer from hotshot D1 Bucknell whose talent far exceeded their program.
A: What are some specific hopes, worries, and expectations about the state of the team next year? You aren’t losing many people, but Reid Hawkins ’17 and Will Dudek ’17 are both real good. Is that a worry?
TK: Graduating the top two is certainly tough as we lose not only their running talent but also the mentality and foundation they brought to this team. However, I am not worried. I know that everyone on this team will step up accordingly, maturing into stronger runners, smarter racers, and exceptional teammates. It is far too early to think of next year.
A: How much strategy goes into training regimens and recruiting? What else goes into those two things?
TK: Recruiting is pretty straightforward: We want people who are dedicated, passionate, and true to their running. Now, since the team is made up of guys that possess those qualities, training is also pretty straightforward: high base mileage, and a mix of longer/strengthening and shorter/speedier workouts. Due to the size of the team, Coach [John Crooke] understands how each of us feels on a day-to-day basis, and adjusts mileage and workouts accordingly. He is accommodating to our injuries and fatigue, but also sets up our training to achieve our best when we need it most. He makes it clear that this is a four-year program: Don’t expect to be phenomenal your freshman year. Instead, we continuously build our volume up to 80 miles a week late sophomore year, and then polish our strength with speed.
A: Y’all run so much. What do you eat? You must need a ton of food.
TK: Not especially. Personally, a regular day is as follows. Breakfast: a mason jar of overnight oats because I like to exercise my cool-Wes-hipster side, but also to consume good carbs and fibers early in the day. If I eat at Usdan, I’ll get an additional two over-easy eggs from Jen, a wonderful Bon Appétit employee who makes my mornings all the more special. Also two cups of coffee to keep the system rolling and engine revving. Lunch: maybe something if I’m hungry. Dinner: It varies from day to day. I stay away from empty-carb-based meals like pasta or rice, and try to get carbs through veggies and fruits. I consume protein right after runs and take iron supplements every night, so I don’t rely too heavily on meats. Big fan of the vegan setup; they have it on lock most days. Soup station has its rough patches, but generally reliable. I’ll sneak a few French fries, too. As far as the team goes, we eat what we need to train at a healthy and maintainable level. Everyone eats differently due to physical composition; some do three full meals a day, and others are fine with one or two meals and snacking around the edges.
A: What are things you’d like the University to know about the team or yourselves, that you don’t think they do?
TK: I feel that we’re pretty transparent. For four years, we get our academics out of the way so we can run.