Pre-Season Training

by Justine

Hello. My name Justine, and I recently just ended my track season and took two weeks off. I'm going to start training for cross country. Is runinng an hour everyday worth doing, or should I mix it up?

Thank you.

Great question Justine. The short answer is mix it up. You can make sure each work out takes you an hour to complete, but two workouts per week should be more than just a distance run.

In the summer, I suggest running at least five days a week. Most of the runs you do can be distance runs. In your case, these distance runs can be for 60 minutes. That will give you an incredible aerobic base going into the cross country season.

At the end of each run, I suggest doing a few quick strides. This will keep your legs fresh and fast. If all you do is long, slow distance runs, you will be able to run a long time, but you won't run fast races.

Two of the days should be either tempo runs, fartlek workouts, and hill runs. Let me explain each workout a little bit.

The Tempo Run is a great way to keep that fitness level up. Let's say you run the 5k at a pace of seven minutes per mile. You should run a three to five mile tempo run at about 7:30 to 7:45.

The Fartlek means Speed Play. You should run like you are doing a regular distance run. Then mix in some speed every so often. I suggest doing five by one minute pick ups. Start running for about ten minutes, run fast for a minute, slow down for a minute, and repeat.

The Hill Run is just as it sounds. Find a hilly path to do a run on, and go for it. You don't have to run any harder than a typical distance run.

The only workouts I would stay away from during preseason training is intervals. Good luck! For even more information read this article on preseason tips.

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Summer XC Training.

by Austin Fred

I am going to be a sophomore in high school this fall and I run track and xc. My freshman time for the 5k in xc was 17:13. That time came with basically no training. My coach had me doing like 25 miles a week and I didn't have a very good base from the summer. My sophomore xc season is where I want to see substantial improvement. I know that with good training I can be running much faster. I am hoping to run in the low 16's for the 5k in xc. I have been told by other runners and coaches to run slow easy miles. Right now, 3 weeks into the summer, I am running about 40 mpw. I am going to work up to 50 for sure, maybe a little more. But i want to be certain that my training will work. Is there anything else that I should be doing to give me a good edge? I am willing to put in any amount of work because I want to be the best. (I am also doing one fast workout a week, like a tempo or hill repeats). -Thank you

Hey Austin,

I think you are on the right path with your summer running. I like the fact that you are working in one faster workout per week.

Do you end up picking up the pace naturally on some of your distance runs. In my experiences with high school runners, during the summer runs, often distance runs turn into progressive or tempo runs on days that they feel good. The pace picks up, and sometimes the distances go further than originally planned.

This is something you could do to. Don't plan for these runs, but on the days where you are feeling a little spring in your step, don't be afraid to stretch it out and finish fast.

I really wouldn't change anything that you are doing right now. My reasoning is that you are only going to be a sophomore. There is always more that you can do, but you have two years left in high school. Also, if you are successful in the years to come, there is collegiate running to.

With what you have told me, I believe you can run in the low 16's this coming cross country season. Be consistent in your training. Don't do anything too extreme as far as workouts are concerned. You'll be more than ready this CC season to put down some fast times.

Happy Trails - Coach Tief

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Off season Training

My cross country season just got over and I was wondering if it is best to take two weeks off? Do the pros do this?

Yes. The pros take off of running for a few weeks, but they still do things to help them with their running. Recently I was reading an article about Ryan Hall.

He was injured during the Olympic Marathon in London 2012. During his month off of running while he was recovering from his injury, he still did numerous things like stretching, strength training, and yoga to stay fit while in recovery mode. He actually said he felt like he was working harder while not running than he did while he was recovering.

Take two weeks of running off, but just for fun, maybe go swimming. Go biking a few times. Do something to stay active, but don't run so your legs can fully recover from the racing season. When you come back to running after two weeks, you will be fine aerobically, instead of feeling winded right away from not doing anything.

I hope this helps. The real danger of taking two weeks off is it turns into a month or three months off. Make sure you start running right away after your two weeks are up.

Happy Trails - Coach Tief

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Need help to begin Cross Country

by Stephan

I am currently enrolled at a community college with no track or Cross Country team and will be transferring to a university in the spring of 2013. I am wondering would it be possible to walk-on and be physically fit to actually compete come next cross country season. Also which types of training should I do to prepare or which section should I refer to.

Hello Stephan,

Good for you for running in college. Being on a team in college was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Yes it is possible to walk-on to most Division III programs, and several Division II or I NCAA teams.

The training you should do to prepare is run pretty much every day from now until you are trying out for the team in 2013. That's what the runners on the teams are doing right now, so you should be emulating the training, but without as many races.

You can always find local 5k or 10k races to enter in to gauge your current fitness levels. I suggest in entering at least 3 or 4 races over the year to keep you motivated and focused towards the season. Even entering into some 1/2 marathons would be a good idea to keep your stamina up there. They will build your speed when you join the team.

The best sections that I can direct you to on are the Advanced 5k Training Schedule, or the Basic 5k Training Schedule.

Here's some video tips on Cross Country

Happy Trails - Coach Tief

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Being Held Back

I began my high school running career as the fastest girl on our small cross country team. I have natural talent and I am always running with the slower people and feel like they are holding me back from becoming a great runner. One girl on my team, also a freshman, started with a 28 minute 5k and after training with me and other faster runners is down to a low 22 minute 5k. I run a 20minute 5k and a 5:35 1600 and am looking to improve my times and qualify for higher-level meets.

I was planning on ditching my team for most of this summer and running my own workouts and increasing my mileage based off of internet research while keeping up my training with my local swim team. I am hoping my coach will let me start training with the boys.

Am I doing the right thing? Please give me advice on how I can train this summer and get the most out of my training and natural talent. I find your website very helpful, Thank you!

Hi there,

I like all the ideas that you listed here. I suggest running on your own and following some of the Preseason Tips in this article. You can also watch the video below for what to do during the summer.

As far as when the season begins, I suggest asking your coach to let you run with the boys. This would be beneficial for you. Tell your coach your goals. Be direct with him/her. This way the coach knows what you are thinking and will be much more responsive than if you don't have an open line of communication.

Happy Trails - Coach Tief

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This article was written by David Tiefenthaler, the founder and main contributor for In addition to running, he's also an author, and a full time teacher.

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