Danielle Siebert goes to races all the time. But she’s normally not the one racing.
On Oct. 27, the University of Maryland cross country and track coach plans to toe the starting line in Arlington with thousands of other runners at the Marine Corps Marathon.
“It’s not that easy to race when you’re a coach, because most weekends you’re away ’cause your athletes are racing,” said Siebert, 35, who lives in Rockville.
When she decided on the Marine Corps Marathon for her second marathon, she said she needed to choose a race that wasn’t on a weekend of a competition for her team or a weekend recruits were visiting. The Marine Corps Marathon is the weekend before the Big Ten Championships, she said, which would work with her schedule.
She realized while training for her first marathon, the 2016 Richmond Marathon, that the training didn’t fit right in with what her women’s cross country team was doing. Siebert needed to do longer runs than the student-athletes, who wouldn’t be running more than 90 minutes, she said. And she couldn’t extend her run if they’d driven to a different location, she said.
Siebert is the associate head coach for Maryland’s women’s cross country team and the assistant head track coach — middle distance for the men’s and women’s track & field team.
She started as a student-athlete for Maryland in 2002 and has been with the teams since. She’s in her 12th year of coaching for Maryland.
Even when athletes aren’t at school during the summer, there isn’t really downtime for a coach, Siebert said. The summer is a big time for recruiting, she said.
And beyond recruiting and coaching, there are plenty of other things Siebert has to think about when it comes to her job, including the budget, the team’s travel logistics and more.
“There is so little time in the day between office work and then actually focusing on writing workouts and administering workouts for your athletes, and then the recruiting process, especially at the Division I level, takes up a large bulk of time,” she said. “So in the fall, there’s a lot of official visits and then in the summer, it’s going to meets and doing home visits.”
Siebert runs with her athletes at practice when they have easy runs, she said, and sometimes, she can run with the team during warm-up and cool-down time while also gaining useful feedback.
“If I warm up and cool down with them, sometimes they’ll also share information with me about how they’re feeling, so I can kind of multitask,” she said.
The team meets six days a week, she said.
For Siebert’s own training, she isn’t working with an outside coach. She got input from friends when writing a plan, and she wants to complete some 20- and 22-mile long runs.
Siebert said training can help her relate to what her athletes are experiencing. If she’s tired from a high-mileage week, she can understand how they may be feeling in a similar situation.
She also considers running to be an outlet for her.
“I think it’s really important to find balance in a coaching world, and for me, my balance is running,” she said.
Assistant Coach Chelsea France was able to see that running is an outlet for Siebert. Although she is new to Maryland’s cross country and track teams starting with this season, France said she’s known Siebert for about five years.
France had many positive things to say about her colleague, describing her in an email as driven, caring, organized, reliable and trustworthy.
“I think with the long hours, energy and effort that is put in to coaching and helping our student-athletes become successful on and off the track, coaches are also in need of an outlet to balance out our energy and relax our minds, and running/training for a marathon has been that outlet for Danielle,” France wrote in an email.
Although France hasn’t run a marathon, she sees how a coach dedicated to the goal would be able to do it — and she noted that Siebert already has done it once. Like Siebert, France said she also runs with members of the team at practices.
“Thankfully with our jobs and what we do for a living, it’s something that you can attain, especially if you kind of mix business with pleasure a little bit,” she said.
At the Marine Corps Marathon, Siebert hopes to beat her time from the Richmond Marathon, which was 3:15:07. But she said her athletes come first.
“I’m not going to sacrifice their performances for my marathon training,” she said.
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