How They Train: Pearl River's Mike Hickey

Name: Michael Hickey
Age: 17
School: Pearl River High School
Coach: Jim Guerci and Mike Kiernan

Personal Bests: Bowdoin Park
: 16:19; Randolph, NJ: 15:45; Bear Mountain (3 miles): 15:18; Van Cortlandt (2.5 miles): 12:35

Championships: All League Champ  (3 years); Rockland County Champ (3 years); Section 1 Class B Champ (2 years); member of 2005 Class B state championship team

Typical Training Week:

a. Pre-Season (Summer)
Sunday: 12-14 pretty hard run at Rockefeller park in Westchester. Hammered miles a little
Monday: 4 in the morning and 6 in the afternoon, both easy to recover
Tuesday: 3 in the morning easy, then 8 miles hard in the afternoon
Wednesday: 10 miles in the afternoon
Thursday: 4 in the morning easy, then 8 miles in the afternoon
Friday: 10 miles really hard at Nyack beach.
Saturday: 9 miles

b. Season
Sunday: 13 moderate long run
Monday: 10 mile easy run
Tuesday:  Dual Meet or Tempo Run, 8 miles
Wednesday: 5 miles before school, 8 miles at practice
Thursday: 5 miles before school, 7-8 miles- workout intervals (anything from repeat 800’s to miles)
Friday: 8 miles easy pre-race
Saturday: 9-10 miles- Invitational (2 Warm Up, 5K race, 4-5 Cool Down)

: My goals since I started running was to win a state championship, so this fall I'm hoping to win states and feds and to go to nationals.

Coach's Philosophy (by Guerci): Our philosophy of running and training has come from two great leaders in Pearl River Boys Cross Country, Tom Doherty (1978-1981) and Rich Michalski (1982-2002).  Mike Kiernan, my assistant coach, and I work in tandem in approaching the team.  The team sees us work together in a collaborative respectful manner that offers them a model of how to work with one another. We both bring our experience and expertise to the table. We both believe and emphasize that teamwork is the heart of any successful program.  We have witnessed that much more is accomplished from a team of dedicated individuals rather than 1 or 2 top runners.

The tradition of excellence started over 30 years before us.  A consistent program doesn’t just happen by chance.  We honor it and we will continually speak about the expectation of excellence.  We have a very supportive community of past runners.  The running philosophy of Pearl River has always been strength through miles.  With that being said, we have to tailor the mileage along with the individual.  The more seasoned the runner, the more miles he can endure. 

My coach, Tom Doherty told me, there is no secret to success in cross country; it’s called summer miles.  If the athletes put the miles in during the summer, most certainly they will have a really good season of growth as a runner.  Those who fail to do that many times will be more prone to injury.  The biggest thing we find is that the talented runners suffer from a self induced guilt that stems from their lack of commitment to themselves and their teammates by not running during the summer.  Warren Buffet states it perfectly; someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago. We see that as a metaphor for summer training.

We tend to show our educator side by differentiating workouts taking into account the athlete’s age, ability, and structure.  An athlete can’t be boxed into one-size fits all.  Mike Kiernan offers his experience as a competitive college runner. Over the years we have had high power runners.  A differentiation and balance is struck with the make-up of the team.  We start off the season with higher miles, longer interval workouts, and morning workouts.  This builds the physical and mental base of the athlete.  We like to emphasize longer tempo workouts which offer a sustained heart rate.  We have found great success in using tempo workouts. 

Our summer miles are tracked via  It offers the athlete an online log to track their progress.  As the season progresses, we pull back the mileage later in the season and start to train using shorter intervals.  The overall drive of the team has to come from inside the athlete and their performance.  We can only stoke the internal fire.  Getting the right people in place can multiply the success rule for the team. Individuals who hold themselves accountable will hold their teammates accountable.

Each year we put our passion about achievement into the season.  Cross country running offers each athlete the chance to reveal their character and mental strength.  We realize the extent of our influence over the team.  There is a careful balance between guiding the team and fully empowering them. We realize that the team must want to succeed equally or more than we do.  Mike and I are very competitive and it reflects in many of our runners.  We have been very fortunate in attracting the caliber of runners which we do.