Gophers transition to the outdoors

MinnesotaâÄôs unpredictable weather is providing a tough transition for the Minnesota track and field teams. The outdoor season officially started March 20 with the men at the Baldy Castillo Invitational in Tempe, Ariz ., and the women in Tampa, Fla., at the South Florida Bulls Invitational, neither bad places to be if one is looking for some warm weather. âÄúWhen you come back from an outdoor training environment, everyoneâÄôs revved up for outdoor track,âÄù menâÄôs head coach Steve Plasencia said of the GophersâÄô trips south. âÄúYou come back [to Minneapolis] and the temperature has changed from where you were. That makes the transition kind of rough.âÄù Rough or not, the outdoor season is here and is traditionally thought of as the more popular track season for several reasons. The indoor track itself is 200 meters long while the outdoor is 400 meters. Outdoor track also features more events, including the javelin throw, the hammer toss, 3,000 meter steeple chase and the discus throw. But the outdoor track season is basically a continuation of the indoor season. The difference between the two seasons is less than one week as Minnesota headed outdoors six days after the NCAA Indoor track and field championships. âÄúThe way our season goes, thereâÄôs not much of a break,âÄù Plasencia said. âÄúThe NCAA [Indoor track and field championship meet] is on one Friday and Saturday and our first outdoor meet is the next Saturday. So, they really just run right into each other.âÄù With not much time to transition from indoor track to outdoor track, athletes can find it mentally tough to go from one to the other. âÄúYou go through a peak indoors and then come back and try to do it again outdoors,âÄù Plasencia said. âÄúFrom a training standpoint, that can get difficult because you are asking a lot from your athletes.âÄù Training for the two seasons is different as well. During indoor track, womenâÄôs head coach Matt Bingle said training is geared toward less intense activities because of injuries where as âÄúoutside we can basically do whatever we want because youâÄôre on a nice big outdoor track.âÄù But that doesnâÄôt necessarily mean that all athletes prefer to be outside. Plasencia said it varies if athletes prefer indoor or outdoor track depending the success they have. âÄúI think athletes enjoy where they have success,âÄù he said. âÄúWe had a successful indoor season, so our athletes enjoyed that. I think overall, if you ask, people feel like outdoors is a little more fun because you are out in the sun.âÄù Bingle had a different approach and said he likes the atmosphere of the indoor track meets. âÄúI like indoor for the fact that everybody is close and in the same building and itâÄôs intense,âÄù he said. âÄúItâÄôs a whole different feel. Outdoors, everyone is all spread out. The throwing events are farther away and things like that so you canâÄôt see everything. I like indoors, but to each their own.âÄù