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 campaign.
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," said Bungard.
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 atmosphere."
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