Step right up … athletes putting in MPP (miles per practice)
Ellyn Spangenberg's not a big fan of running.
Ellyn Spangenberg's not a big fan of running.
Kaitlyn Bassett appeared as fast as Danica Patrick in her speed drills.
Kaitlyn Bassett appeared as fast as Danica Patrick in her speed drills.
Ellyn Spangenberg doesn’t like running long distances and that’s somewhat amusing given her chosen sport.

Spangenberg, from Chuoulota, Fla., runs long distances every practice, and there are plenty of them and every game, there will be 16 of them this season, as a midfielder for the JU women’s lacrosse team.

At a recent practice, for example, in a bit more than two and a half hours she ran about six miles, according to the pedometer to which she was attached.

“I hate running the mile, actually,’’ Spangenberg, who also is taking 16 hours this semester, said. “I like sprinting; stopping and going, I’m a sprinter. Only in middle school did I run long distance.’’

Six miles. One practice and there generally are six practices a week this time of year as the team prepares for its season.

Soccer player Kaitlyn Bassett is in the same boat.

Her team is in off season workouts and she recently put in 9,123 steps, or about 5.4 miles in a little less than two hours on the pitch in a practice she described as “medium’’ because several players had to miss that day because of a lab.

Her practice consisted of a variety of drills from working on sprinting mechanics to playing a simulated half-field game.

“Usually practice is about two hours and sometimes we’ll play full field instead of box to box (a little shorter field),’’ Bassett, from Colorado, said. “In the fall (in-season), we do a lot (of realistic scrimmage type work) because we would be preparing for a game.’’

The mileage the players put on didn’t surprise women’s soccer coach Brian Copham.

“That sounds like a solid day,’’ he said. “It’s not a high number, but it’s certainly not an easy day.’’

Like many of his peers, Copham sees condition as a year round proposition.

“It is year round and sometimes you’re in better shape than other times,’’ he said. “You never want to get completely out of shape because it takes a long time to get it back.’’

In the college sports world, off season conditioning takes a natural path back to in-season play. In soccer’s case the spring conditioning makes it a bit easier to stay in and continue conditioning in the summer which, of course, leads to the fall season.

“It’s (fitness level) one of the few things we can control as individuals and as a team,’’ Copham said.

Five miles. Six miles. One practice. And you thought you were working hard.

- Jim Nasella