By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the indoor season in the books, Penn State
track and field has revved up new energy and is ready to begin the 2015 outdoor
Contrary to most people's opinion, the outdoor and indoor seasons are
two different animals and each one requires a renewed sense of motivation,
training, and skill.
The outdoor season lasts longer and introduces new events both on the
field and on the track such as the javelin throw, hammer throw, and discus.
It also comes along with a new set of challenges such as the weather, in-meet
ambiance, and traveling.
The new season, which lasts from mid-March to mid-June, will take the
team to the warm and sunny outdoors of Florida, Louisiana, California, and
Georgia, to name a few.
"Indoor is sort of a meets to an
end. Without the indoor season we would just be training for months without any
meets and that would be draining," said assistant coach Randy Bungard. "We
train mostly to do well outdoor. Indoor is important to us but we train to peak
and run our fastest outdoor."
The sprints and middle-distance runners see the most difference in the
transition from inside to outside with addition of 4x100-meter relay, 10,000-meter run, 400-meter hurdle
race, and the 3,000-meter steeplechase events.
"The 4x100 [relay], everybody
loves that event. It's so fun," said Bungard. "Sprint medleys, the Penn Relays...those
are fun. That's where you bring in the team aspect of it. Penn Relays is one of
our favorite meets of the year. There's a lot more variety outdoor with relays,
traveling. It's just better."
Outdoors also brings a much bigger track, usually double in size, 200
meters to 400 meters in circumference. It doesn't bank outdoors as it does
indoor and it has longer straight edges with fewer turns, which sometimes works
to the advantage of the athlete.
"The big difference is that if
we're going to run a 200 [meter race] outside, you just have one huge turn and
a straight away. Turns slow you down a little bit. [Indoor] if you're going to
run a 200 you have to run with two slow curves. Naturally, by the facility,
times will be faster outdoor," said Bungard.
Staying stable and motivated can
be difficult for student-athletes since the there is such a seamless transition
between seasons that doesn't allow for much rest.
"They way I keep the kids from
burning out is to keep some tempo in their work outs. From the beginning of the
season to the end in June or July, there are days that we will [train at] 75%
tempo. That is how you keep them from burning out. It holds off the peaking.
And a big thing is having a couple rest days in there. [It's] is important,"
With proper training, student-athletes
trust that they will remain in tip-top shape, which gives more room to simply
enjoy what they do.
"[The athletes] get more excited
and motivated. They get to travel and to warm weather places," said Bungard.
"You have the weather and sometimes some tail wind...you have to deal with the
elements outdoor which you don't [indoors]. The kids and coaches just like
outdoor better. You're in the sun. You're outside. It's just a better
The indoor season brings a more intense
environment with the enclosed facility and small space for fans,
student-athletes, and coaches to be closer amongst each other.
However, the opposite can also be
the beauty of the outdoor season - the independence of the student-athletes
allows them to be focused and unstoppable.
"I like the indoor meets because
the track is right here and the [fans] are right here... it's like a three ring
circus. During outdoor, javelin is here and the discus is over there... the track
is huge you don't have that intensity. But on the flip side I like that about outdoors.
We train to be independent," said Bungard.
The team is set to begin its outdoor season on Friday, April 3rd when
they travel to Gainesville, Florida and Palo Alto, California for the Florida
Relays and Stanfo