Hoka One One New Jersey New York Track Club
A Photo Essay by Jay Bendlin
1. The Warm-Up
Every athlete above the middle school level understands the concept of the proper warm-up and stretching, but NJNY takes it to an entirely new level. Having joined them on a few warm-up runs, it is no joke. They often run 20 minutes (traditionally double or quadruple the length of high school athlete's warm-ups) in tights and layers to get the blood flowing and sweat rolling
After a nice jog to warm-up the muscles, a JV, varsity or collegiate team would grab some water and form intricately even lines on the track and listen to Coach spit out a warm-up drill routine they've all heard a million times. At the professional level, after that run, everyone splits up to do their drills and stretches that are required for their own bodies up. Following the drills, it's time to activate the fast-twitch muscles and bust out some medium effort strides.
(Sometimes some laughs are required to warm up the face muscles)
2. The Workout
Then it's time to lace up and rip a fast workout
When times on the track on race day are as fast as these guys, it's not an easy task to get into peak racing shape. Often working out two, even three times a week NJNY is hitting splits that only the best in the nation could hit
The workouts vary from tempos (continuous miles at a faster than easy pace), endurance (longer reps such as 1200s), and speed (absolutely tearing up the track)
Whether they race well or poorly, they can expect a gags workout after competition
3. The Cooldown
After finishing a workout, most teams are used to jogging two laps and calling it a day. However, any college or professional distance team knows the importance of a good cooldown. NJNY has its eyes on the future and prides themselves on a good recovery.
After months of preparation, it's time to perform
You'd think a professional team of any sport would be extremely intimidating to witness how they train. However, the men and women at NJNY were welcoming and very friendly to a shy and nervous 20-year old starting out with photography.
Everyone always has a smile on and is ready to have fun. I always ran my best when I was letting loose and these guys and girls are always having fun.
Every practice never felt like a practice, it was a fun hang out (with the occasional split by the guys to equate my PR; they split sub 1:57 twice in a workout)
It's been said that a program or team is only as good as the coaches. The staff behind the Hoka One One NJNY team acts with experience and care on their athletes. Led by 82-year old veteran Frank Gagliano aka "Gags" and assisted by John Trautman and Tom Nohilly, these coaches as yelling splits and making decisions on their athlete's health on the fly. I could not see a more committed power squad.
Growing up as a "track nerd" in New York state, I always looked up to NJNY. In the United States, there is such a heavy showing of fast times on the West Coast with teams like the Oregon Project, Bowerman Track Club, and the University of Oregon to name a few. For many recent college graduates, moving across the country isn't an option for their assimilation from collegiate to professional running. That's how the NJNYTC began back in its origins.
That is not the case anymore, their roster now recruits from all along the coast (not just the tri-state area). For many, it is the perfect opportunity to work a full-time job or finish graduate school while training at such a powerful caliber.
What NJNY stands for and represents extremely well is that you can be a hometown hero and still compete with the best in the nation. As their times get faster, more eyes are on them to perform with the best of the best. It's up to NJNY to inspire the next generation of hometown heroes.