Reducing a personal-best time in cross-country can require drastic changes in a runner’s routine. Reynolds senior Harrison Hickman, the top runner on the Demons team, decided to make those changes.
His result was amazing. Harrison reduced his time by nearly one minute since his sophomore year. His previous best was 17:31 at Fayetteville’s Jungle Run. He cut that to 16:34, also at the Jungle Run.
“I upped the mileage I run each week during the summer,” said Harrison, “knowing I had to step up with some notable absences (from graduated seniors).”
Another major change involved his diet, including a major sacrifice.
“I had to cut out Pop Tarts,” he said, laughing. “Diet was a big thing. I especially have to watch my diet more. I am eating more vegetables. I’m staying hydrated.”
Harrison started running at Wiley Middle School. This is his fourth year on the varsity for Reynolds.
“I was looking for something to do in the sixth grade and figured I would give it a try,” Harrison said. “I got hooked. I like the feeling after races when you run fast. I’m a real fitness fan and the team environment is awesome.”
Even with his success, Harrison said some days can be difficult.
“Some days are harder than others,” he said. “Coach (David Wainwright) gives tough workouts. School can complicate things.”
Sometimes even a season can be difficult. Harrison suffered from Achilles tendinitis his sophomore year which forced him to miss nearly three months of competition.
“It was a lot of rehab in the pool,” he said. “I did a lot of aqua jogging. I wasn’t racing again until outdoor season.”
Complicating matters was a growth spurt. “I grew a lot between my sophomore and junior years,” Harrison said.
Harrison, who also runs the 800, mile and two-mile events during the outdoor track season, is familiar with most of the major high school cross-country courses in North Carolina.
“Ivey Redmond (in Kernersville) is fast but obviously not that tough,” he said. “The Wendy’s course in Charlotte is pretty fast with a lack of hills. The main thing there is a tough pace which will bring you through. Adidas (in Raleigh) has tough competition and is a fast race.”
One of Harrison’s favorite shorter races is the Norman Trzaskoma meet, named after the longtime track and cross-country coach for the Demons.
Harrison hopes to score again at the NCHSAA Class 4-A later this fall. After that, he’ll take a two-week break.
“I’ll rest my legs for two weeks and then prepare for indoor season,” he said.