Over the summer, junior Taryn Cordani sought out opportunities almost 2,000 miles away from home to continue training for the upcoming cross-country season. She was also roughly 1,600 meters above sea level.
Cordani spent most of her summer in Denver as a communications intern at the Wilderness Society, which is a leading conservationist organization in America. While in Denver, she said, she was also interested in running with a group in order to stay in shape for her cross-country and track seasons this year.
Many professional athletes train in Colorado or other places of high altitude because the thin air makes breathing harder, which, in turn, makes for easier breathing when the athlete returns to sea level. Many runners, from Olympians to amateurs, do this to enhance their performance when they return from their chosen place of high altitude.
Cordani sought out the Denver Track Club to do this type of training.
“I looked up every running club in Denver and found the Denver Track Club,” Cordani said. “Denver is a very active city, so there’s a big running community.”
The Denver Track Club is an International Athletics Team that was created in 2012. The club is an adult program mainly geared toward athletes who have finished their college running careers, but not exclusively. The club accepts all levels of athletes to give everyone an opportunity to improve their running and be part of a team.
Cordani said she respects how seriously the runners take their training.
“They compete competitively, even if they’re not professionals,” Cordani said. “They have normal jobs, and after they go to work, they go to practice. They compete against other college athletes and try to compete to maybe go professional — some of them are pretty talented.”
However, Cordani said the altitude training was harder than she expected, especially in the beginning.
“The first time I ran in Denver, I was coming back from taking time off from nationals,” Cordani said. “I was expecting the worst, but it actually wasn’t that bad. The next day and week, though, it felt like a bus had hit me. Altitude change impacts everyone differently, but I had trouble adjusting at first.”
Tim Badger, one of the coaches and a managing director, said he was glad to have Cordani practice with his team.
“She fit in great,” Badger said. “From day one, she was willing to have an open mind and listen to the input she was given. There was no hostility, we were out there just having a good time, and that’s what’s important. That’s what we need for the sport is athletes like that.”
Erin Dinan, the head coach for women’s cross-country, said she gives out summer training programs to all of the athletes and Cordani took it upon herself to seek out a team to run with.
“I think it was a really good experience for her to run with people and be able to train with people all summer, and I think it helped build her confidence to trust in her abilities,” Dinan said.
Badger said they bumped up the mileage that Cordani was running and that, along with practicing in the high altitude, will make for noticeable improvement.
“She continued to improve and get a lot faster by the time she left,” Badger said. “She was already pretty tough, so we’re excited to see what she does this season — she’s going to be killer.”
Cordani began running cross-country last season for the Bombers. She made an immediate impact, placing first at the Empire 8 Championships. Cordani qualified individually for the NCAA Division III Cross-Country Championships alongside teammate Denise Ibarra, a junior. She placed 14th out of 280 total runners, which was good enough for her to earn All-American honors.
Dinan said she is excited to see what this season brings for Cordani, knowing that she is a very self-driven athlete.
“Taryn is a very strong athlete in general and is also someone who is very goal driven and a high achiever,” Dinan said.
Cordani said overall, the altitude training put her in a good place to begin the cross-country season.
“When I got back on the east coast, I felt light as a feather and workouts were insanely easier,” Cordani said. “I think the whole experience impacted me positively.”