Sara Walcott is a student of running. No, she doesn’t train for her favorite sport like it was a class with text books and a calculator.
But for this White County High senior, running cross country is far more complex than just lacing up the shoes and hitting the trail.
It’s a tricky formula with a training schedule designed to have her at a personal peak at the season’s end. For that end of the equation she leaned heavily on her coach Jonathan Sutton to help put her in the best position to win.
Walcott’s explanation of her routine is that training is centered around running more miles early, and then as the season moves along shaving off miles for a focus on increased speed.
"Running is really like a pyramid," Walcott said. "There’s really a whole lot of science to running that I don’t understand yet.
"But I work really hard with my coach and he helps me write up a good plan."
It seems to have worked. For the second consecutive season, Walcott finished eighth at the Class AAA state meet. She finished this season’s meet with a time of 20 minutes, which was an improvement of 34 seconds over her time as a junior.
For her efforts, Walcott has been named The Times 2007 Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year.
Walcott also finished as runner-up at the Region 7-AAA meet (20:08) only seven seconds back of winner Katherine Gibson from West Forsyth. She strived in that race to come in under the 20 minute mark, but was still very pleased with her finish.
Walcott’s intense summer conditioning put her in position to have such a successful senior season. According to Sutton, the leader of the Lady Warriors cross country team put in about 50 miles a week training during the summer. Even on days she worked, Walcott would run five or six miles in the mornings.
Walcott’s longest runs, going for about 12 miles, were a test to her stamina.
"She had a great season, and did a lot of hard work to get to that stage," Sutton said. "Sara does her best in everything that she does."
The White County runner’s best race this season with a fourth-place finish and a time of 19:32 in the Westover Invitational on Oct. 6 in Albany. It was a unique setting for Walcott running on an unfamiliar course. She wasn’t familiar enough with the course to track where she should be at every stage of the race.
But she knew things were going good when she went out on the first mile at 6:20. She finished the race with a 6:17 pace.
"When I saw I ran that first mile at 6:20 I was freaking out," Walcott said.
Walcott has a habit of running well at the Westover Invitational. As a sophomore, she ran a personal best at this same meet with a 20:37. It shattered the previous school record of 21:17.
And Walcott wasn’t just worried about setting new records for herself. She also took the time to help make the entire White County team better with advice to younger runners and an attitude that helped motivate others to become as enthusiastic about running cross country as she is.
"She always did the little inspirational things to help the team," Sutton said. "Her goals really centered around making the team better."
Walcott still has track season left in her senior year to help prepare for college. Next season, she will either run at Berry College or Shorter College, both located in Rome.