of the Pack
Synopsis: Chris Gaube, the top returning men's
cross country runner, is coming off a summer in which he was
both a runner and a coach. He launched the Relentless Run Train
Club for high school runners while he prepared for his own upcoming
season at Binghamton.
The idea to launch a summer running club was something Gaube thought of during his freshman year. He began to consider a career as a coach following college and with his strong ties to the local Binghamton area, he wanted to help high school runners improve.
"I've thought about become a coach (following college) and this was a great chance to see what being in that role is like," he said. "There is a lot I had to learn when I got to Binghamton and with what I have gained my first year here, I want to pass that on to younger runners."
Gaube got a late start on running in high school. Up until his junior year at nearby Vestal High School, his main sport was basketball. He joined the cross country squad just to stay in shape for the basketball season. However, when he won the 2004 Section 4A in his first season, it become clear that running would become his top sport. In November 2005, he signed a National Letter of Intent to come to Binghamton University.
"Because I only had two years of training, there was a lot I was still learning when I got here," he said. "In college, there is a lot of research put into training on how to become a successful competitor. Strength training, staying healthy and learning to peak at the right time during the season are all very important. I want the guys in my program to know what I didn't when I was their age."
In the spring, Gaube let the Binghamton Athletic Department know of his intentions to start a running club for local high school runners. Once the compliance office approved of his intentions, he went around to local high school meets and contacted coaches he knew to let them know about his program.
"It was a lot of work and because my outdoor season and finals ran through May, I got kind of a late start in organizing the program," he said. "The coaches and runners I talked to, however, thought it was a great idea.
From late June through early August, the RRTC met three times a week on the Binghamton track. Between 20-25 runners came at some point during the summer and most of those runners took part in the program-concluding two-mile time trial on August 9. Some nights during the summer, they would concentrate on just running. Other nights they would talk about aspects such as strength training and charting a training program.
Although he was the head coach of the RRTC, Gaube had a wealth of other people to assist him. Clark Holdsworth, who specializes in exercise science, and Nate Rachames, who competes at the University of Rhode Island, each brought their own ideas to the club. Binghamton head coach Annette Acuff and Broome County College head coach Tom Carter were guest speakers during the summer.
"This was a group effort," Gaube said. "This could not have been as successful without Clark and Nate. I also appreciated Coach (Acuff) and Tom coming out to talk to the group."
Gaube had two main concepts to impart on his runners--keeping healthy and having fun while competing.
"Staying healthy and avoiding
injuries is very important," he said. "I talk to the
runners about training smart, peaking at the right time and the
importance of strength training. I also let them know that competing
hard, while still enjoying what
Even before the end of the summer, there was little doubt in Gaube's mind that he would continue the program next year.
"This has been a great summer for me and for the kids who have come out," he said. "I am anxious to see how they all will do during the year. They have learned a lot about training to compete and it has given me a great experience as a coach."
"It Has Helped All of Us"
With a solid publicity effort, Gaube was able to attract an impressive core of committed members. Although the RRTC was new, each runner was interested in how it could help them improve.
Jeff Martinez, who is entering his junior season at Johnson City High School, heard about the RRTC during his track season last spring. He was already an established high school runner, having placed 14th at the Class B State Cross Country Meet as a sophomore. Still, he was looking for possible ways to get better over the summer.
"I wasn't sure what to expect at first but it has definitely been a great experience for me," Martinez said. "It has helped all of us to get in shape earlier in the summer and while we trained hard, we also had fun."
One aspect about distance running that Martinez learned the most about was strength training.
"Chris really stressed core training," he said. "He gave us specific exercises and stretches that helped us get stronger in addition to staying fit."
Martinez, who won the summer-ending time trial, is aiming to qualify for the New York State Federation Meet this year. He has no doubt about whether he will return to the RRTC next summer.
"I will definitely come back," he said. "I am in better shape and am stronger than I ever have been heading into a cross country season."
Dan Young is a junior at nearby Seton Catholic High School. As a sophomore, he placed eighth at the Section 4 Championship. Like Martinez, he too was looking for ways to gain an edge over the summer.
"So much of how a runner does in cross country depends on how they train over the summer," Young said. "I thought this would be a great way to get better."
Like Martinez, Young did not come away disappointed with the RRTC.
"Chris did a great job," Young said. "He got everyone excited about training together and shared a lot of great tips. We did a lot of strength exercises such as dips, push-ups and squats. He also gave us advice on things such as how to fight through a side stitch. I learned a lot from him."
The runners who came over the summer will all compete at different schools this coming fall but Young enjoyed the camaraderie that was shared each time the club met together to train.
"I got to know a lot of runners from other schools," he said. "All of us improved so much this summer. It's going to be exciting to see how we all do in the fall."
Making his Mark
While he was coaching the RRTC over the summer, Gaube continued to train for his own upcoming cross country and track seasons. Throughout the summer, he ran up to 80 miles a week to prepare for what he calls an important year for him.
Last season, Gaube became the first Binghamton freshman to be named the men's cross country team MVP since the athletic department moved up to the NCAA Division I level six years ago. He was the Bearcats' top runner in five out of six meets, including the America East Conference Championship and season-ending IC4A meet. Still, it was the conference meet that was the most disappointing race for Gaube. He finished 28th and the Bearcats settled for eighth place as a team.
"It wasn't a great race for anyone, myself included," Gaube said. "My job is to position the rest of the team to do well but I didn't stay up with the lead pack. I was not happy."
The track season, however, was a different story for Gaube at the America East Championships. At the indoor meet, he placed fifth in the 5,000 and seventh in the 3,000. He followed up with a seventh-place finish in 5,000 at the outdoor meet. Although he was just a freshman, Gaube had gained the additional experience to keep up with the top runners in the America East.
"As I got more training and experience, I realized that I could run with those guys," he said. "Last year was about getting my feet wet and I was pleased with how the year ended."
"I have seen few athletes compete at Binghamton with the heart and tenacity that Chris showed his freshman season," head track and field coach Mike Thompson said. "He simply refused to give up and his attitude had a positive effect on the (Binghamton) distance runners as a whole."
Although the men's cross country program has struggled in recent years, Gaube leads a Bearcat squad that is starting to find its way in the America East. Junior Adam Hill was fourth in the 3,000 at the conference indoor track & field meet last year while sophomore Craig Coon was seventh in the 10,000 at the outdoor meet. Freshman Casey Quaglia was the Class A Maine state champion last fall while fellow freshman Adam Quinn placed 30th at the New York State Federation Meet.
"I am very excited about this season," Gaube said. We've got a young squad but we all improved throughout last year and the addition of such talented freshman will only elevate our team's success. We will have a very competitive pack, with many top spots up for grabs."
Although he is just a sophomore, Gaube has already become the Bearcats' team leader. It is a role he welcomes and that others appreciate.
"Chris is a natural leader," Acuff said. "He leads by example and has already had a tremendous impact on our men's cross country program. I think the entire team is excited to see what he'll achieve after a year of experience."
"I like to embrace the leadership role," Gaube said. "It is something I was used to in high school. Now that I have a year of college experience, I want to help the team even more."
Although Gaube's leadership skills are unquestioned, it is his mental toughness that is seen as his biggest asset.
"Determined people are successful people," Thompson said. "With his determination, I feel Chris could become the most successful distance runners in Binghamton's history."
Needless to say, his determination could one day propel Gaube to become just as successful of a coach.
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