July 11, 2011
Each weekday in the month of July, MGoBlue.com will feature an interview with a U-M head coach. On Monday (July 11), head men's cross country coach Alex Gibby discusses the leaps the team has made in his first season and a trip to South Korea in the near future.
What makes the summer in cross country so unique?
In the summer, we spend 8-10 weeks away from our student-athletes. For us, the summer serves as a tremendous period for development, which is irreplaceable going forward in both the short term and long term. What we're looking for is a team that's mature enough to train on their own effectively, doing what's intended, and at the rate it's intended.
Why are the summer months so important to the development of your team?
Once they come back, we have six weeks before the serious racing starts. It leaves us just 10 weeks before the Big Ten Championships. If you haven't taken care of the previous 8-10 weeks on your own, you are limiting your development by about 50 percent, which is where we were last year. We were fundamentally behind every national-level program when we returned in late August last year.
What do you see as the team's biggest strength heading into next season?
Our biggest strength right now is that we're coming off a very successful spring training cycle, which incorporated indoor and outdoor track. From top to bottom, the distance runners trained at rates they hadn't seen before over a period they've never trained before. We trained harder and longer, and it was shown in their development on the track. We're a vastly different team now than we were when we came together last August.
What was your first summer job? And where?
Fleet Feet Sports in McLean, Virginia. I was essentially a sales associate at a running shoe specialty store.
Do you or did you have any special travel plans this summer?
My wife, Kathy, made the U.S. Marathon team for the IAAF World Track & Field Championships in Daegu, South Korea. We may head out there for a short period before the competition. The rest of my travel plans revolve around recruiting.
Tell us one unique thing you've done since the season ended?
The nature of our sport is unique because we meld three different seasons into one academic year, that being cross country, and indoor and outdoor track. There isn't a lot of free time. The seasons overlap, and whether it's long term planning or short term racing, the chance to be unique is sort of non-existent.
Past MGoBlue.com Summer Sessions
Head Women's Cross Country Coach Mike McGuire (July 11)
Head Women's Soccer Coach Greg Ryan (July 8)
Head Men's Tennis Coach Bruce Berque (July 7)
Head Men's Track & Field Coach Fred LaPlante (July 6)
Head Water Polo Coach Matt Anderson (July 5)
Head Men's Swimming & Diving Coach Mike Bottom (July 1)