We caught up with South Brunswick senior Vidhur Polam, who recently announced his commitment to the University of Pennsylvania, to discuss how summer training has been going, what his goals are for this season, and more.
Polam is the defending Central Group 4 winner, now entering his second season of cross country ranked No. 3 in New Jersey on our preseason list. He ran to sixth in the Meet of Champions 3200m race this past indoor season with a PR of 9:09.54.
On the Upcoming Season
We know this year has had its own twists with canceled and delayed seasons, but how has training been going for the upcoming cross country season?
Training has been going well. Nothing special. Nothing too hard or too easy as of yet. The team and I are locked in and it looks like there are about 10 guys fighting for 7 spots, which is a great place to be in.
Coach Rivera and Coach Randal are big believers in consistency so that is what our team is focusing on. In other words, we want to stay healthy because that was something we had a hard time doing last year when it came time for the postseason. Likewise, my workouts have not been too difficult yet, but I think once October comes around, I will start to ramp up training a bit.
With your first year of cross country behind you, coming over from soccer to run in 2019, has that added experience changed your mindset at all heading into this fall?
My first year taught me a lot. I was not smart about how fast my runs should be during summer training and when to make moves on the course. With my first year behind me, I am more experienced with the courses, and I finally understand what certain paces feel like. In regards to my mindset not much has changed. My mindset is always to do my absolute best for the team and to try to run my own race.
Other than a delayed schedule with the October 1st start date, is there anything you are focusing on differently in terms of training?
With the delayed schedule, my training has progressed much slower. I do not have to worry about big invitationals in September or October like Shore Coaches or Manhattan anymore, so I do not have to taper for any early races. I also have not built up in mileage too much as of yet. Now, all my focus is on November.
You are the defending Central Group 4 Champ with a Thompson Park course PR of 15:49 from GMC Championships. Have any kind of time goal you or the team are shooting for this year?
As for the team, we have big goals when it comes to the county meet and State Sectionals. We hope to perform our best during those meets. As for me, initially, my priority would have been Manhattan and the postseason. However, now I plan to shift my focus on Sectionals and Foot Locker Regionals and Nationals. In terms of personal goals, I hope to defend my Sectional title and go after the course record. I also hope to qualify for Foot Locker Nationals.
Now that you have experienced a cross country into winter track transition, did you feel joining XC helped your game on the track as well? That 9:09.54 for sixth at MOCs this past March was an impressive time drop, it's a shame we couldn't see what spring had in store.
For sure. I never trained in the summer until I joined XC. Running for three months straight and putting in proper mileage allowed me to build my strength as well as my speed, which translated to winter track as I was able to PR in the 3200 by a large amount.
Quick Questions - Kick to the Finish
How did you get into running?
I started out playing soccer. I have a picture of me holding a soccer ball when I was a few months old, so you could say I played my whole life. In order to stay fit for soccer, I joined the middle school track team in seventh grade. This was my introduction to the sport. Luckily, I had/have great middle school and high school coaches, so I gradually got better and decided to switch from soccer to cross country my junior year. Some people may think I regret not switching to XC earlier, but soccer was my first love and I really enjoyed practices, and I still enjoy playing soccer occasionally.
Your own favorite cross country or track performance so far?
My favorite track performance so far was the Group 4 3200 this past winter. Although I got fourth, I PR'd by a large amount and gained a lot of confidence from that race. Going into it, I did not feel like I had raced to my potential the whole season but coming out of it, I felt like a new man.
This might surprise people but I really enjoy winter. I love going on runs in the cold with my teammates and then coming back inside and warming up. I also love the atmosphere of the Bubble, Ocean Breeze, and the Armory. That being said, Cross Country is a close second. I love the team aspect, the weather in fall, and grinding it out at Holmdel and Thompson Park.
Which school subject do you enjoy the most?
I love psychology. The brain has always intrigued me and there is so much more to learn about it.
Shoutout to my Indians because I love Chicken Biryani. I also love homemade pizza. I can't really decide between the two.
Favorite professional athlete?
As of now, probably Moh Ahmed. He is humble, out-going, and obviously fast. Similar to me, he is always the underdog when it comes to big races.
Greatest New Jersey XCTF moment you've seen in person?
No surprise here. The greatest NJXCTF moment I have ever witnessed was when Liam Murphy and Devin Hart battled it out at Indoor MOCs last year. Everyone, including me, thought that Devin was easily going to win the race as he was seeded around 15 seconds faster than Liam. But Liam came out of nowhere and stuck with him and in the end, out kicked him, which was crazy. Props to Liam for showing up when it mattered and defying odds. The bubble was going wild and everyone was in shock. What can I say, NJ track and field never disappoints.
Liam Murphy and Devin Hart battling to the line in 2019.