As he finished his second cross country season last fall, EMU's Justice Allen (Waynesboro, Va./Waynesboro) decided to make his summer training a top priority as he prepared to take it to the next level.
Over the summer, Justice followed Coach Bob Helper’s workout program, while also adding strength training into his routine. Through his hard work, Justice continues to destroy his personal records as he prepares to compete at Regionals.
“I decided over the summer that I wanted to take it way more serious than past seasons,” Justice explained. “I don’t have a lot of time left to compete at this level and I want to leave my mark.”
His improvement this cross country season has been unmatched, as his 8k race times significantly improve each race. The junior knocked down his personal record at the ODACs and was the top finisher for the Royals. His PR time of 26:13:0 was more than a minute faster than his previous best, and 1:28 better than an 8k he ran last month at Christopher Newport.
Race distances change throughout the season and generally increase leading up to the ODAC Championships.
“When we run 5ks at the beginning of our season, it helps build our endurance for the 8ks we compete in,” Justice said.
Overall, training gets harder in October due to the lack of meets
“The two weeks before ODACs was the best training though,” said Justice. “Coach Bob told me to just go for it and I felt great! Isaac (Alderfer) and I specifically worked together to push one another to be faster. My race at CNU was the first time I broke 28 minutes since my freshman year.”
As the Eastern Mennonite UNiversity cross country team has a bigger roster than previous years, Justice has been able to adapt quickly and guide the younger runners.
Coach Hepler describes Justice’s leadership role, saying, “Justice stepped up and led the team to a strong fifth place finish (at ODACs). He has emerged as a strong team leader and the freshmen are like hungry puppies, waiting for him to feed them nuggets of running wisdom.”
“The team dynamics have become a very positive atmosphere for all of us,” Justice added. “This year was a huge growing season that helped all of us come together and continue to set the foundation for the program.”
In the second season under the current coaches, Justice explained that character building is emphasized for each individual on the team. Not only do the coaches help from an athletic standpoint, they also assist Justice on an academic and personal level.
“The coaches are great,” he said. “They push us, while also listening to our bodies. Their motivation is unreal and I ask them to be intense with me because that is what is going to push me. They listen and adapt to each runner’s needs.”
As Justice is finishing up his cross country season, he has higher goals set as he heads into indoor track season.
“I feel like I can reach my goals because of the current shape I am in,” he said. “My fitness has never been better!”
Justice and his teammates on the EMU cross country teams run this Saturday at the South/Southeast Regional Championships in Memphis, Tenn.
-- Bri Miller, EMU Sports Information Writing Intern