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Berman ‘Buckles Down’ at Robinson

Though off-season program was vital, Jared Berman credits a different reason for success.

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Here at the Oatlands Invitational on Sept. 20, Robinson’s Jared Berman finished sixth, emerging as a star on the Northern Virginia cross country scene.

If asked, Robinson senior Jared Berman will answer that it’s only a trend. The graduation of every high school senior enables the emergence of another younger, successful runner.

Pose the question to Rams cross-country coach Jeremy Workman and he’ll attribute the newfound success to Berman’s off-season running program.

Ask another runner from around the Northern Region and the response could be silence. Most are too out of breath from chasing Robinson’s new leading runner to offer anything the least bit coherent.

“He’s always trained over the summer, but he really buckled down and was very determined to make himself one of the top runners,” Workman said. “He does have a lot of talent, and we knew that if he did the work there would be a big payoff there.”

Workman and Co. must feel like they’ve hit the Powerball. After finishing 50th in the state, 15th in the Northern Region and seventh in the Concorde District last season, Berman has been winning at a slightly more frequent clip this fall.

At the Oatlands Invitational on Sept. 20, Berman finished sixth with a time of 16 minutes, 8 seconds. Then, at last Saturday’s Octoberfest on the 5-kilometer course at Great Meadow in The Plains, Berman had perhaps his best showing yet, turning in a time of 15:43 to grab third place.

“Saturday was the best performance, in my opinion, that he’s ever had,” Workman said.

<b>THIS PAST SPRING</b>, Berman started the madness. With a workout program that required around 35 miles a week to start, the Lynyrd Skynyrd-loving Berman didn’t ask any questions and breezed through the workouts. By the end of the summer, that workload was increased to between 55 and 60 miles a week.

“It’s crucial to get your base before you start your workouts,” said Berman, who hopes to run at Virginia or Virginia Tech this fall. “You don’t want to work on your base during the season when getting your speed is imperative.”

A lap around Robinson Secondary School measures 1.3 miles and the Rams typically run what are called “mile repeats,” in which each runner must hit a specific time and Berman’s typically falls between 4:50 and 5:07. Four or five are typically done each day.

Berman credited this training exercise, along with Workman’s twice weekly “track workouts,” where the Rams rattle off different amounts of 400-, 800- and 1,000-meter runs, as two of the more beneficial off-season training tools.

However, as much fun as those 1,072 speed bumps around Robinson can be, mile repeats and track workouts weren’t the only reasons for Berman’s emergence this season.

<b>FROM JULY 27-AUG. 1</b>, Berman, along with several other members of Robinson’s team, attended Blue Ridge Running Camp, which takes place annually at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg. There, Berman’s typical day featured morning and afternoon runs, several instructional sessions and an obvious narrowed scope on all things running.

“He was already in good shape, and he wanted to make sure that he went to camp and got something out of that as well,” said Workman, whose boys team won the Octoberfest team title. “I think he had a little bit of confidence from that as well.”

Upon his return to Fairfax, Berman ran

throughout August, increasing his mileage every week. Then, later in the month, he clicked on milestat.com, a popular Web site devoted to sports that, well, are measured in miles.

There it was, an article about Berman’s performance at a scrimmage on Aug. 27. On the 2.98-mile course at Burke Lake Park, Berman had held off Leoule and Tihut Degfae from Edison, twin runners from Ethiopia, who, with the departure of Joe LoRusso (Oakton), Brad Kenimer (T.C. Williams) and Bryan Landry (Jefferson), are favored to compete for the region title.

“That’s when my head got a little big … but not cocky or anything like that,” Berman joked.

At that point, Berman knew he had arrived. An increased dosage of mileage and a five-day commitment to running in the Shenandoah Valley had propelled last year’s 50th-best runner in the state of Virginia to the front page of milestat.com.

And, as it turns out, neither Berman’s original reasoning nor his coach’s truly explained his ascent to the top.

“My summer training was important, but there’s one thing that helped me get where I am right now and that’s my mom,” Berman said. “She’s always giving me that push to be better than I was in the past, and she always makes me go on my runs.”