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Sep 23, 2019

Local Running Camps Foster Talent and Friendship

By Tim Morris

Natalie Shapiro, Delia Russo, Lilly Shapiro Catie Anderson Colts Neck track running

Attending a high school camp together helped Colts Neck’s (left to right) Natalie Shapiro, Delia Russo, Lilly Shapiro and Catie Anderson capture All-America honors at the New Balance Indoor Nationals in the 4x1-mile relay.

One might be tempted to ask what one could learn at a running camp. Turns out the camps are about more than running and are quite beneficial!

Colts Neck High School senior Natalie Shapiro credits camp last summer with helping her stay healthy throughout the 2018-19 season. There were discussions on subjects like nutrition, the best warm-up and cool-down stretches, yoga and cross training among others. Video analysis of the runners was used to go over proper form.

“It gets me in the habit of doing the little things like core stability, ice baths and stretching,” Shapiro said. “Form is very underrated. I’ve seen the impact of proper form. I ran [personal record times] last year.”

Training with runners throughout the state, the Cougar was able to share training tips and different ideas with them.

“Running with new people gave me flexibility in my workouts and confidence,” Shapiro said.

The confidence she and her teammates gained helped them reach the pinnacle last season when she, sister Lilly Shapiro, Delia Russo and Catie Anderson captured All-American honors in the 4×1-mile relay at the New Balance Nationals indoor meet.

Another advantage of running camps is that it builds camaraderie among teammates who attend together, Shapiro said.

Former Colts Neck star Jordan Brannan, who will be a junior at nationally ranked Iona College this fall, credited camp with helping him become a two-time indoor NJSIAA All-Groups Meet of Champions state champion.

Brannan first went to camp his freshman year. Exposure to the best runners in the state gave him first-hand experience.

“It’s where I learned about the sport,” Brannan said. “The environment is great. The running community has so many great people. As I climbed up, I got to run with the best runners, and I knew if I wanted to be good, I had to hunker down and pick up my training.”

Brannan is now a counselor for Jim Schlentz’s Cross Country University program and remarked that the camp “is my favorite week of the summer.”

Charlotte Cochrane, a Red Bank Regional High School grad who just completed her first year at the University of Michigan, credited attending camp the summer before her senior year with helping make her senior year her best.

“I felt that whole week of training helped a lot,” she said. “I would recommend 100 percent going to a running camp.”

Cochrane said getting to run in the same group as the state’s top runners, including her Michigan teammate Maddie Brand, then at Middletown South, she “gained confidence” that carried over to her high school cross country and track seasons.

Schlentz said runners learn from each other and get to really know each other.

“It breaks down walls,” the Cougar coach said. “They learn different things that the others do and they develop friendships.”

The camps are good for coaches as well. Middletown South Head Coach Bill Clifton reported that his girls go to camp in the summer and often times come back with suggestions.

“The camp opens their eyes to what others are doing,” he said. “They’ll tell me that this team does something, and I’ll give it a try and see if it works. I’m open to suggestions. There’s not one right way to do things.”

Clifton concluded, “Having all the runners together creates a family-type feeling,” he said. “They share the same goal, and it all comes together.”