Cross Country Training; a time for a review.

Training Phases:

Organize your training into phases;

The First phase should have stated already: your objectives should be to; increase volume, the emphasis should be on  aerobic runs, tempo runs and hill runs at mile pace.
Hill runs in this phase help to toughen you for hard interval training in October. The key to racing well at the end of the season could be the quality on interval training your do at 3K pacce.

Include Strides: Even during this first phase you should be doing at least 2- 3 days of 12 -15 second fast runs with a long rest. Do sets of 4 to 8 strides at mile pace or faster.

Volume: After 4-5 weeks of training, the high school runner should consider running 4-5 days a week, at least 30 minutes a day, the college runner should be running 50 to 60 minutes a day 6 days a week. One day a week at this stage should be a long aerobic run, the long run should be longer than your daily average and could be 20-25% of your weekly volume.

During August, the emphasis should be on increasing volume, high school runners should consider running 6 days a week, and 250 to 300 minutes a week. This should include a long day, a tempo day, a hill day and several days of finishing the run with strides at mile pace or faster.

Speed Drills:
You should consider speed drills several times a week such as fast feet drills and fast leg frequency drills. Strong consideration should be given to core conditioning such as plank drills and abdominal exercises.

The fast feet drill:

Frequency drills:

Frequency series  at a jog: Knee up, toe up, step over
  • Jog + fast feet as you feel
  • 3 step + fast left foot
  • 3 step + fast right foot
  • 2 step + alternate fast l/r
  • Continuous fast left
  • Continuous fast right

Second Phase:
As mid September approaches,  the emphasis  should  switch to interval training at 3K pace with equal rests e.g. 3 minute runs with 3 minute jog rest. Tempo runs of 4 to 5 minutes at 10k pace with short rests i.e. one minute, could be included as maintainence

Continue one long run a week at a good aerobic pace, and include strides and speed drills as above. Core conditioning should also be included.

Personal Goals:
Set realistic personal goals for the season, pick out three races that are the most important to you and concentrate your efforts on those three races, all other races should be considered practice runs.

The modern innovation revisited:

When the early season races start, strongly consider doing a medium hard workout after each  race;  this workout could be  fast 200 m at mile pace or sets of 200, 400, 200 with walk rests. We did this type of training after races 25 years ago, the rest of the world is now starting to notice.

Don’t forget recovery days:

Easy recovery days are needed several times a week, especially when more complex training starts in late August, consider recovery runs after long days, hills reps and interval days.

Some other blogs that I have written provide more specific suggestions:

The following link is a specific cross country program

There also is a blog on training for the 2 mile, this could provide some suggestions for the high school cross country runners.

Interested in phases three and four get in touch?  My advise is free.


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