Endurance base and speed work

Dear Coach,

I have a 13 year-old daughter who gets a lot of intense endurance training in swimming. She is also interested in running cross country, but time to do running, especially longer runs of four or five miles, is limited because of the swimming schedule (she does doubles three days a week). Given the endurance training in swimming, should she focus the running workouts significantly more on speed work than one normally would in training for the cross country season over the summer?
Thanks,
A.K.

Hello There,

I don't think she will need speed work. One nice thing about being young is you actually have spring in your step. I'd like to have the burst and quickness I did back then right now!

Anyways, as Ryan Hall once said, "The best cross training for running is running." Your daughter just needs to do distance runs. The cross country season is about 10 weeks long, and she'll get plenty of opportunities to work on her speed then. In the summer, just do distance runs. She's far to young to worry about sharpening her speed. Besides, kids in high school have a tendency to turn distance runs into speed workouts anyways. They typically start relatively easy, but it turns into a fast run near the end if they are feeling good.

Do your best to keep her out there running, but don't worry about speed. Cross country is a longer race. Speed is important, but not nearly as much as getting in some quality distance runs.

Happy Trails - Coach Tief

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This article was written by David Tiefenthaler, the founder and main contributor for Tips4Running.com. In addition to running, he's also an author, and a full time teacher.

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