They’re grimacing one moment and smiling the next.
Such is life on these quarter-mile ovals throughout the world – a mixture of pain and pleasure created by running to the utmost speed for a measured amount of time on a local track.
It’s places like this one, situated at Holland’s Council Rock High School South, where adult striders convene to share the experience and provide incentive to get just a little bit faster.
On this particular evening, group leader/coach Alex Carideo is guiding about a dozen members of the Bucks County Roadrunners Club through their weekly paces.
One of the top runners in the area, Carideo passes along some of the lessons he learned during his careers at George School and The College of New Jersey.
With the summer season winding down and the fall distance campaign about to get underway, this particular workout calls for mile repeats, both on the track and along the trails through the CRS campus. Shorter repeats, such as 400s and 800s, take place earlier in the year.
This is Carideo’s first year at this post, which began back in the spring on the George School track. He took over for former leader, coach Jimmy Balmer. The club returns to George School in the fall.
On his new assignment, Alex not only gets to test his skills on new veteran runners but one he’s quite familiar with, namely his dad, Peter.
“I think it’s great,” Alex said prior to a recent workout. “He has a lot of experience running, but I kind of have a different perspective. I’ve been through a lot more coaching than he has. Coaching has changed a little bit over the years. There’s a lot more specific work, especially on the track nowadays whereas before it was more just about running a lot of mileage. He brings a lot of friends from the club, a lot of fast, older runners. It’s good to have them.”
Peter sees a lot of positives learning from someone with a new, different perspective.
“Having my son, Alex, in charge of the track workouts and giving orders is a unique and enjoyable experience,” he said. “It is indeed a ‘cool’ and rewarding dynamic.
“If offers a role reversal from the typical father/son dynamic. Alex has gained insights from my experience and knowledge and now I learn from his fresh perspective and ideas. He knows so much more about the science of running and his program has resulted in personal records for several BCRR members in this year’s Boston Marathon.”
High mileage in the fall marathon season is great but high-smart mileage is even better. So that’s where doing specific mile repeats fits into the program.
“The challenge of these track workouts has always been to kind of find something that everyone can do,” Alex said. “There are all different types of ability levels on the track. So someone who doesn’t do a lot of mileage, who’s new to track, might prefer a different workout. I think a lot of people in the club are training for fall-type marathons. This is kind of a perfect endurance-type workout for that.”
Added Peter: “Back in high school my coach used to say, ‘don’t think kid, just run.’ And we can 100 miles per week. Nowadays the training is much more sophisticated. It’s about knowing how your body works and how to use the data gained from the workouts allows you to maximize your performance.”
Alex puts his electrical engineering degree to good use. But there’s a little more to it than that.
“Running is not just track workouts,” he said. “I’m an engineer and it’s the numbers I’m really interested in. I’m kind of specific with the track workouts. But that’s only a portion of coaching. There’s a huge social and mental aspect to running. People look over and think I need to train hard. But if you’re not mentally prepared, it’s going to be very tough.”
Alex continues his own running career. He plans to do the Philadelphia Distance Run in a couple weeks and also the Indianapolis Monumental Half-Marathon. He’s done PDR in 1:12.49. Based on his recent 52:55 in this year’s Broad Street 10-Miler (5:17 pace), he hopes to break 1:10 (5:30 pace) in the upcoming 13.1-miler.
Now that he’s out of college, training with (and coaching) other athletes helps.
“I find it extremely helpful to have people to work out with,” he said. “I just feel so much better for some reason. I think when you’re running with people, you just kind of get into that rhythm. There have been a lot of runners throughout my career who have been a lot better than me. We’ve both improved. I think that’s one of the easiest ways to improve, running with people who are better than you. There are people in this group who are probably running faster than they should right now but they’re being pushed by other members in their group. I think that’s going to help them improve more.”
Peter can’t help but express pride in what his son is accomplishing.
“Knowing that Alex is in charge tends to push me to give my best effort during the workouts,” the elder Carideo said. “I take pride in seeing Alex’s growth and improvement in his running. It was been highly rewarding.”
54th annual Mill Street Run, 9:30 a.m. (open race). Contact www.runsignup.com
Garden of Reflection 5K, 9 a.m., Yardley. Contact https://www.raceentry.com/races/garden-of-reflection-5k/2023/register