Cross Country FAQs

Updated:  July 16, 2020

2020 Season – COVID

We are working on policies and procedures to ensure the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and families.  Your patience is greatly appreciated, we will communicate new developments as soon as we can via text, email and this website.

Normal Year – Non-COVID


How long do practices last?

Practice begins each day after school at 3:30 pm.  We meet in non-rainy weather conditions by the dumpsters in the front parking lot (a very glamorous location).  Students are expected to be dressed and ready to run.  All practices begin with attendance and a review of the workout by the coaches followed by dynamic warm-ups, our workout, core, and stretching.  We begin and end at school.  Practice finishes around 5-5:30 each day.

What do I need for practice?

Appropriate running gear.  Girls will need a good running bra.  Boys need compression shorts.  Both need good running shoes, socks, and a running watch.  They do not need expensive GPS watches (they can’t wear them on race day anyway), but an inexpensive digital watch will help them to keep track of their time spent running or splits on interval days.  We practice by time, not by distance.  They should pack to adjust for weather – hot, cold, or rainy.  Nothing they wear should be too provocative, profane, or endorse drug/alcohol.  We do not recommend minimalist shoes.  A little shock absorption is good for old and young bodies.  Ultimately though, shoes are a personal choice, but please make that decision based on fit and function, not on color or brand.

Do I need to bring a water bottle to practice?

As a reminder, we provide the water so runners are not required to bring water bottles. We will monitor the heat this week and make sure everyone is properly hydrated.

I have sore spots where I have chafed?

Buy some “Glide” (or any anti-chafing stick) and use it before the chafing even starts – you’ll be happy you did.  “Glide” is sold at In Competition, Dicks, Runaway Shoes – pretty much any athletic store – usually by the checkout lanes.  Common chafing spots are thighs, armpits, and chest.  Running in tech shirts instead of cotton can also help to reduce chafing.

Shin Splints?

Click on the attached link to learn more about shin splints and what can be done to prevent and heal them.Click here: Shin Splints?

Where do athletes get changed?

After 8th hour athletes need to get changed into their running clothes in the locker room located in the lower level of the school under the old gym.  School administration requests that students do not get changed in school bathrooms.  There is storage for oversized athletic bags by the auditorium.  Students should be prepared for all weather conditions.  We run every school day.

Do I have to go to every practice?

Yes.  Cross Country is a team sport.  We are not a club.  We run in packs and coaches group athletes based on pace and workout.  These group dynamics are important on race day.  Your teammates and coaches depend on you being there everyday in order to be conditioned and ready for race day.

What if I will be absent?

Prior to every season the Remind system is set-up with the student, parent, and coach cell phones.  We use this system to communicate to the athletes and the athletes & parents are expected to use this system to communicate with us.  If an athlete will be absent, they must text their anticipated absence to  Remind.  Telling a friend to tell a coach is not the same as sending a Remind.  Failure to notify the coaching staff of an absence via Remind causes a delay in the workout.  Habitual absences, excused or otherwise, may result in a removal from the team.

I don’t want to use Celly because I don’t want everyone to see my message?

Responses to remind only go to Coach Gard and to Mrs. Cullen (the Administrator).  They do not go out to the team.


How do meets work?

Each meet has 4 races – JV girls, JV boys, Varsity girls, and Varsity boys.  The order of events changes meet by meet.  The boys run a 5k (3.1 miles) and the girls can run either 2.5 miles or a 5k.  Varsity from our first meet through Conference is typically composed of our top 8 runners.  The rest of the team makes up the JV races.  Meets are usually held at parks, golf courses, and around schools and in all weather besides lightning or tornado.

What do parents “do” at meets?

Do not wear your pumps to a meet!  Parents are some of our best cheerleaders on the course.  Some parents run from viewing spot to viewing spot to cheer on their athlete and teammates.  Other parents prefer to not run around and instead watch the start and finish (usually located near each other).  However you choose to cheer, the athletes greatly appreciate your support.  When you aren’t cheering our parent network could use your help.  Our parents help to bring bananas, set-up camp, organize timing chips, collect chips, collect warm-ups, hand out cold towels to tired finishers, and so many more tasks.  It’s a great way to get to know other kids and parents at NDA (our team is 1/4th of the school).

How long do they last?

Typical weekday meets begin between 3-4 pm and last until 5:30-6:00 pm.  Light is a limiting factor in the fall and can drive some of the later season meets to start earlier.  Our kids are usually released at the end of 7th hour to get changed and board the bus.

Why do you leave so early when my child doesn’t run until 4:30?

We travel as a team to our meets in 3 school buses – it is after all a team sport.  We leave NDA with enough time that the first racers have time to get to the course, get their chips, warm-up, and get to the line on time.  It would be a logistical nightmare for the coaches to arrange for buses to come and go at different times to accommodate different groups of racers.

Do I have to buy a uniform?

No.  Every athlete will be issued a Cross Country uniform (owned by NDA and loaned to the student).

Do I have to buy a warm-up?

No and yes.  The team warm-up is required for every CC runner.  Warm-ups can be purchased from the CC team.  Warm-ups can also be borrowed or purchased from prior team members. Please check with Coach Brandt before purchasing a used warm up to assure it is compliant.  The last order for warm-ups each season is placed the morning after the mandatory fall team meeting.  The warm-up is the athlete’s to own.  The warm-up style doesn’t change every year and athletes may get multiple years use typically out of a warm-up set.  Every athlete should label their warm-ups.  We aren’t responsible for lost warm-ups.

Do I need racing flats or spikes?

For the top 20 boys and top 20 girls, yes.  Ultimately spikes are a personal decision.  That said, I’ve never seen a runner at State without them.  We can run in muddy and/or slippery conditions and spikes can give a runner assistance in control.  Spikes are also lighter than normal training shoes and can have the effect of making the runner feel lighter on race day.

Do I train in my racing spikes?

No.  Runners should not train in spikes.  Spikes are not intended for the long term wear and tear of daily running and they will not give the runner the cushioning they need for the miles we put in.

What should I bring to meets?

Every runner should have a bag packed the night before a race with their clean uniform, undergarments, warm-ups, training shoes (daily running shoes) and spikes (if applicable).  They should pack a snack for their bag to have on the bus on the way to a meet.  The gap of time is too long for most athletes between lunch and race time.  They don’t want to run on empty.  Peanut butter & Jelly sandwiches are popular as are granola bars and dry cereal.  They should not pack anything too salty or spicy as a snack.  Your teammates will be happier if they don’t have to smell Jack Links Teriyaki Beef sticks in the bus.  All runners should pack a refillable water bottle, carry it throughout the day, and drink from it to stay hydrated for the race.  When in doubt, talk to a coach.

Will my runner race in every meet?

Some runners do not run in every meet.  This decision in made by the coaching staff.  Racing weekly and at a highly competitive level can be tough on a growing body.  This means that there are meets where we “rest” our varsity runners.  At those meets, the next 8 runners get to be in the varsity race (earning them a varsity letter).  We also have meets where only our top 7 boys/girls (Sectionals and State), top 10 boys/girls (Griak), and top 20 boys/girls (Racine) compete.

What is the Racine meet?

Racine is an overnight meet where 8 Varsity runners and 12 JV runners compete at the UW-Parkside Cross Country course near Racine.  We take a coach bus and leave on Friday at the end of the school day, drive to the course, jog it, overnight at a hotel, race the next morning and return late Saturday afternoon.

What is Griak?

The Roy Griak Invitational is hosted at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.  It is an overnight meet.  We leave on a Friday morning and return very late on Saturday night.  It is an awesome meet that hosts both college and high school races.  Colleges from all over the country are present.  Our girls have won their high school division for the past 3 years.  Our top 10 runners of each sex race at Griak.  The coaching staff will ask additional teammates to join us for Griak.  The additional teammates get to join in the fun, watch the races, and help out where needed.