XC Project/SPEED PROJECT/Sidney's Rainbow Runners - SUMMER 2023
August 18th, we concluded our 8th season of the XC Project, a Cross Country training program for ages 10-20. It was also the 2nd year we offered a program for fall sport athletes and sprinters looking to get faster called the Speed Project. This group targeted the same 10–20-year-old age group.
Our partnership programs with the Merrimack Valley Striders were held every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning from 8:00-9:45 at Greater Lawrence Vocational School in Andover.
Both programs are targeted for Middle School, High School and College athletes preparing for the fall season. Training takes place on the Turf Field, the trails, 400-meter track, and the school grounds. After a group warmup on the turf, we split the groups up by ability level, not by age or gender. Our philosophy is that a 6:00 miler should train with other 6:00 milers regardless of age or gender. There were about 105 athletes enrolled with a fairly even gender split (Boys - 55 & Girls - 50). Our attendees continue to increase over past years, and our numbers were up about 20% over last year.
The groups go off with their individual Coach for the workout. Workouts are varied, since we feel that variety keeps runners fresh and challenged. We don’t duplicate any workouts over our 18 sessions. Hills, tempo runs, track work, circuit training, and plyometrics, kept the runners motivated and prepared for the XC season. It’s always very gratifying to see the progress that the kids make throughout the Summer. The Whistle Drill and Turn N Burn Runs are always mentioned as their Favorite workouts. The Speed Project focus is on speed drills, acceleration, biomechanics, Plyometrics, circuit training and relays.
Sidney’s Rainbow Runners
This program, inspired by Sidney Mae Olson’s love of running and the outdoors, focused on making running fun, using games and active play to build strength, speed, agility and mobility. The goal is to ignite a love of running in elementary school age children (5-10 years old) that continues through their lifetime.
We began with 6 young athletes, and by the last session reached 18 kids. There are 23 registered for the fall program. We feel that this will be the fastest growing program we offer and is a great feeder program for our XC/Speed Project.
Our Coaching Staff
Our XC Project coaching staff is made up of MVC/CAC High School Coaches - Peter Fortunato & Matt Murphy (Greater Lowell), Fran Cusick (Tewksbury), Kevin Alliette (Methuen), Pat Carleton (Nichols College) and recent USC College graduate and Triathlete/Marathoner Joe Schifano. The Speed Project was led by Jess Nelson (Burlington Girls Coach) and Erik Taber (Dracut). MVS Coach Mary Beth Ellis & Tatum Pecci (recent UMass Lowell grad/1st Grade Teacher in N Andover) led our Sidney’s Rainbow Runners Program.
I am Fred Doyle, the Director and Founder of the XC Project and Speed Project and will work with both the XC and Speed Project as needed. I am the Head Boys & Girls XC Coach at Bishop Fenwick HS in Peabody and continue as the Director of Special Events for The Massachusetts State Track Coaches Association (MSTCA).
We utilize many supplemental activities in our programs including Kettlebells, Medicine Balls, Plyometrics, Mini Bands, Core Work and Hurdle Mobility, and continue to utilize agility ladders, wicket drills, Flying 30’s and 10-meter sprint Timing. This allows us to attain our summer goal of getting our athletes both stronger and faster.
A question we are frequently asked is why do these kids sign up and work so hard during their summer vacation. Our athletes are highly motivated and understand that the more they do in the summer the better prepared they are for fall. We tell them on the first day that the training won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. We expect this fall to see many of our XC Project athletes posting outstanding times in both their league meets and invitationals. They all mention how well prepared they are for the upcoming season.
On our final training session, we spent the last half hour doing our XC Project Fun Relays. Jump Rope, Skipping, Bear Crawls, Backwards Runs and Find Your Shoe Relays were all competitive and fun. Teams got to choose from Coach Doyle’s Magic box of Tee Shirt samples, Hats and assorted other prizes. We always view the last day with a bit of sadness, but with the anticipation for the new XC season. The countdown has begun….only 10+ months until our first day of training for 2024!
See More Photos Here.
A tremendous thanks to our partner, the Merrimack Valley Striders, for all their assistance in making our programs successful.
XC Project Director Coach Fred Doyle