Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Greensburg Cc Follows an Unusual Course

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Greensburg Cc Follows an Unusual Course

Article excerpt

Greensburg Central Catholic has been building up its cross country program using its coach's unusual background and its runners' team mentality.

The building started when Lou Rocco was offered the position of head coach in July.

Rocco had never coached, competed in or had any experience with cross country before receiving the job offer. A personal trainer, Rocco was in Lake Placid competing in an "Iron Man" triathlon competition when he received an email from Greensburg Central Catholic athletic director Dan Mahoney.

"A friend recommended me to [Mahoney]," said Rocco. "We had no previous relationship."

Rocco described the job offer as extremely "out of the blue."

"I had never run cross country," he said.

He noted, however, that he had competed in long-distance runs of 35 and 52 miles.

Rocco may have been new to cross country, but the one thing he knew about it was how to get athletes to run faster. After accepting the job as coach of both the boys and girls teams, he did some Google research on cross country. Rocco found out that many cross country training schedules are not very different from his own training schedule for marathons.

The next step was instituting a preseason training camp.

"Camp was voluntary for about two weeks before training season," said Rocco. "There were only a handful of athletes who showed up, but I still wanted to apply my own spin on the cross country techniques."

Rocco immediately implemented strength training and conditioning, as well as core work (which consists of a lot of abdominal exercise and different types of pushups).

Rocco's intensive training did not stop with the jumps. Greensburg Central Catholic runners were also presented with yoga, interval training, bleacher training, suicide drills and "aggression drills." Aggression drills involve situations where two or more people must race and find ways to pass each other.

The Greensburg Central Catholic runners stayed with Rocco's unusual methods. …

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