Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Going the Extra Yard

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Going the Extra Yard

Article excerpt

Coaches ask for blood, sweat and tears from their athletes, but John Downey means it literally.

The new IHA-Bergen Catholic cross-country coach (the teams will be combined this fall for the first time) took seven of his runners to Philadelphia recently to get their blood tested in order to come up with an optimal training program for each.

"To train kids properly, basically coaches have to take educated guesses at what pace kids should be running," said Downey. "Doing this takes the questions out of the equation, so you can almost individualize their training for them."

It's called the Omegawave system, and there are two types of exams. In one, the athlete is hooked up to an EKG machine to test the readiness of his or her cardiac system and weighs various stress factors. The other requires a pinprick of a finger to read the point where the lactic acid begins to build up in the bloodstream, which hampers performance.

Athletes run 800 meters at least three times at various paces before giving blood after each time. They all sign waivers to give permission to have their blood tested. Another group may get tested in a few weeks.

Downey said he still is waiting for the final results on his seven athletes, but has begun to get preliminary results. This was something he last used at Holy Angels in 2006, when it won the state title in cross-country.

Downey said he thought this would be a good time to do it again.

"This team is growing, and I know my seniors this year are amazing. They are smart and dedicated to the program, so I know they can do it right," said Downey.

He learned about the Omegawave through friends who work with Navy SEAL teams. He also has gone through the program himself.

"It helped me a lot," said Downey, who runs regularly. "If you want to be a superior athlete, you have to take your limiting factors and make them stronger. …

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