Gina Procaccio has the viewpoint of not repeating workouts from the previous season, a philosophy that was instrumental in her Villanova Cross Country women’s team winning back-to-back NCAA titles on Monday.
“The first thing I told my assistant in August, was that in order to repeat, everything has to be different,” Procaccio told World-Track on Wednesday.
“I was able to pretty much not repeat any workout from the previous year and we scheduled different early season meets. “
Great planning from the first session last year saw Villanova winning the national title without even being on the radar – so Procaccio must have designed those workouts brilliantly.
Then why would the experienced coach change it, given that she had almost the same group of athletes returning?
Well, her answer was very simple.
“Runners love to compare workouts year to year and I didn’t want anyone getting discouraged if their workouts were slower than their workouts from the previous year,” Procaccio revealed.
And again her set up worked as Villanova, led by Sheila Reid – ran away with their ninth team crown at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center at the top of the week – beating Florida State and Texas Tech.
The Wildcats entered the championships as the favourites, following some eye-popping performances where they ran undefeated in the build-up and Procaccio was always confident that her team would have repeated.
“I was confident that I had a group of girls capable of winning again,” the proud coach told World-Track. “I wasn’t worried about my team feeling pressure of being number one, I was worried about complacency.
“When everyone is saying you are number one, you start to believe it and forget how hard you worked to get there. “
Procaccio even had her own strategy for keeping the girls on their toes.
“Last year I rested them a bit for their first meet against a top team to give them confidence, this year I consciously sent them into their first meet with very tired legs.
“We were facing three other top five teams and I’m not going to say I was trying to get beat, but I certainly didn’t care if we did. We ended up winning the meet, but the girls seemed to be on a mission after that.
“A good bit of the key players were not happy with their individual performances and got really focused after that. I can’t really say they weren’t focused prior to the Notre Dame meet but something definitely changed after that” a meet they dominated to win by a clear 54-points.