Friday Focus: Haley Cummins Prepares For Last Season of XC

Photo by Craig Amoss

Haley Cummins has been one of Maryland's top runners since her first cross country race in the fall of 2016. She won 3A state cross country titles in each of her first two seasons, and she has three conference and three regional titles under her belt.

Cummins is also a talented lacrosse player - not only does she play the sport during the track season, but she also plays for a club team during the fall. Over the years, not only has she become one of the best cross country runners in the state, but she has done so while balancing two sports at the same time. Now, before her final season of cross country for the Mustangs of C.M. Wright, MileSplit reached out to talk with Cummins.

MileSplit: Let's start with the present. How has summer cross country training been going? Are you doing anything differently this year compared to previous years?

Haley Cummins: Summer training is going well. I've been following a summer running schedule that my coach provided me. I do play club lacrosse, so I have altered my running routine around games, tournaments and practices by counting them as workouts. In addition to running I have also been doing injury prevention training that will make me stronger and help in running and lacrosse.

MS: How do you transition back into running mode after having been away from the sport for seven months? Is there a re-adjustment period every summer? Are you doing any other sports over the summer?

HC: Transitioning back into running mode is definitely challenging since I'm going from quick bursts and change of direction into long distance training. I also have to start getting my head back into running mode since running is such a mental sport.

Cummins after winning her second straight 3A state title in 2017.

MS: Looking back at last year's state meet: what did you take away from last year's race? Did your outlook change the further you got away from the state meet? Do you reflect on the race often, or have you put it behind you and look forward to this fall?

HC: Last year's state meet was definitely rough, but I did take a lot away from it. I hurt my groin about a week before the race during a fall lacrosse game. I was super anxious and nervous before the race, which threw me off a lot once the gun went off. Looking back onto that meet, I'm going to try and stay more relaxed and be confident in my abilities this coming season.

MS: Going back even further: when did you first start running? As a freshman, was there ever a moment when your confidence jumped, and you felt like you had truly "arrived" in the sport?

HC: I hadn't started running until my freshman year. I joined my high school team with my brother and ended up loving it. After winning my first couple of races, my confidence shot up and I thought I might have a future with running.

MS: Entering your junior year, what was your driving motivation, coming off of back-to-back state titles as a freshman and sophomore? Does that remain the same today? Has that been the same throughout your running career?

HC: Going into my junior year, I had the goal of another state title, but I also had my own goals motivating me, like faster times. I'm constantly competing with myself, whether I'm trying to cut a few seconds off my last PR, or even during races, making my first, second or third mile faster than the last.

MS: Have there been any moments (specific interactions or races) that have significantly altered your outlook on cross country or racing in general?

HC: My success freshman ad sophomore year definitely made me love running. Although being confident is a super good thing, I do think at some point I needed to come out of the clouds, so having two rough races at Bull Run taught me that I need to change my outlook and train harder.

MS: What particular aspect of training and/or racing do you feel you excel at? What aspect do you think you have improved upon the most? What area do you think you need to work on the most?

HC: I am very competitive, not only with others but with myself, so I think my ability to be mentally tough and determind helps me a lot. As far as improving goes, I had never raced prior to my freshman year so I had no idea what I was doing. I thought there really wasn't much to it, I just had to run faster than the people behind me, but I did learn that there is some technique that goes into it. My coach has helped me learn how to pace and keep my mile times consistent, so I think I have improved most in that.

MS: What are your goals entering this cross country season?

HC: This season I am hoping to continue my succes that I've had throughout the years. I want to continue to push my past times and improve on the little things. I'm going to train hard this season, and hopefully I can finish my high school running career on a positive note and get a third state title.

MS: Do you have any advice for people who are debating running year-round versus playing other sports? Any training tips for coming back strong the following year?

HC: My advice for people questioning running year-round is to really decide how much you love the sport. Is it something you might want to carry into college, or do you just really love competing on the high school level? Training-wise I would recommend to always push yourself out of your comfort zone and to compete with yourself. Definitely listen to what your coach is telling you, and listen to your body.

MS: What are your collegiate plans?

HC: I committed to the University of Oregon in December to play lacrosse. Although I'm not going to be running collegiately, I am going to one of the best running schools in the country, so I will still be watching lots of races.

Quick Questions:

Favorite place to run?

My favorite place to run is the MaPa Trail in Bel Air. We have weekend practices there during the season and I love running on the trail and through town with my friends.

Favorite pre-race food?

My favorite food before a race is a Gatorade protein bar.

Best competitor you've ever raced against?

The best competitor I've raced is Abigail Green (Walter Johnson/University of Virginia). I raced her freshman year and she is super talented.

Hardest workout you've ever done?

The hardest workout Coach Mickey has my team do is 800 hills.

Funniest teammate?

Brandon Cruz was the funniest teammate I got to run with. He is now going into his sophomore season at Wilmington University.