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Training the individual athlete in a collective environment, beating personal records and balancing nutrition are only parts of the philosophy of Head Coach Armand Crespo’s foolproof training regimen for his cross-country teams.

The training regimen consists of three main phases to match the season. Starting out with what Crespo refers to as the “base phase,” his first and foremost step is to train the individual, and to build cardiovascular endurance.

The team is currently in the second phase of training, which replaces long runs into longer overall workouts. During the second phase, Crespo incorporates working on speed and ultimately combining the two. “Base training prepared us for second phase, where we’re doing speed workouts,” Cassandra Lew, an athlete on the women’s team said.  

In the last phase, or “championship season,” the volume of the training tapers down, and the intensity of the work increases. “We’re trying to get to, not necessarily a peak, but a readiness to compete where we’re a little fresher, a little sharper, and we’re definitely reaching the peak of our speed,” Crespo said.

Nutrition also plays a big role in Coach Crespo’s training routine. “I follow the diet especially in championship season,” Lew said, which includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, and staying hydrated. “At least 40 to 50 percent of an athlete’s food intake should be carbohydrates when they are involved in moderate exercise,” said Lorrie Gray, registered dietician in an email.

“Muscles grow and strengthen through exercise, not because of special supplements,” she said.

On top of overall team training, Crespo is also focusing on the top seven girls, or “The A-Squad,” that are being taken to championships. “We call ourselves ‘The Wolf Pack,’ because that’s how we train – as a pack,” Lew said.  

Though the coach aims for his athletes to master the different phases of training, another important goal is to have them achieve their own personal records. “They’re trying to beat the clock . . . trying to achieve something that they’ve never achieved before,” Crespo said, “So in that one moment you can pass the line faster than you’ve ever done it before.”

The training regimen proves a 100 percent success rate, Crespo said. “We’re reaching our peak,” Lew said. “Compared to Mt. SAC and Glendale, they burn out and get tired because they run their hardest in the beginning of the season,” said Lew. “So they haven’t even seen the best of us yet,” she said.

This year, the women’s team ranked 14th in Southern California, and are on the verge of vying for a conference championship – a first for the women’s program at PCC. Meanwhile, the men’s team shows possibility of qualifying for the state championships, which hasn’t happened in over a decade.

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