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Designing A Summer Running Program For (mostly Highschool) XC/Track Athletes

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Alot of Cross Country or distance Track and Field runners will often ask how they can improve their times more. One of the best ways and times to do this is through good training in the off-season. In this guide I will try to answer many questions and give help to runners that may just be beggining to run distance, or have been running distance but have not yet reaped off-season training for its amazing benefits.


Easying Into Things


If you are nearing your summer training and ran during the recent track season you should begin by taking a break. The time varies among athletes and how your season went, but you should in most cases take at least 3 days off and try to ease back into training within a week of your season's end. After comming back from your break you should start training at around half your mileage previous to your break. Give your body time to readjust to training and slowly increase your mileage back up to its previous level.


After your body has adjusted to running your summer should be devoted largely to building a "base". When you build base you should focus first and foremost on aerobic fitness levels, rather than working heavily, if at all on speed/anearobic fitness.


Bulk of Your Training


Most of your runs should be easier, lighter-paced lower-long runs with 1-2 slightly longer run(s) a week. The specific distance can vary between athletes. But for a runner who does around 35 MPW start with around 4 or 5 mile easy runs and 7-8 mile long runs, working your way up to 5-7 mile easy runs and 9-12 mile long runs over the course of the summer.

A sample weekly plan goes as follows.


Monday - Easy Run

Tuesday - Easy Run

Wednesday - Long Run

Thursday - Easy Run

Friday - Easy Run

Saturday - Easy Run

Sunday - Long Run


Pace for all of the above runs should be manageable, and easy run pace should be one that you can keep a conversation throughout, long runs should also be easy but by the end of your run you should be at least a little winded.


Resting/Cross Training


Breaks can be taken throughout the summer, but you should avoid taking breaks too frequently. The idea is to maintain a good, increasing level of aerobic fitness, taking days off can detract from this process. If you must take a break consider cross training. Methods of cross training include other aerobic exercises like swimming, or biking.


Alternative Workouts


Many runners wonder if there are any other special workouts they can do to help them improve, two types of workouts that can be an entire day of training or make up a small part of one of your daily runs are tempo runs and hill training.

A tempo run is essentially a run at a sustained effort. You can do a lower/middle distance run at a sustained pace of about 85% effort--You should finish feeling like you could run another mile, but glad you do not have to.

Hill training can take many forms. You can find a fairly steep hill a about 20-35 feet long and do repeat sprints up it, jogging back down to help build leg strength and some endurance at a sustained level of effort. Or you can find a path or trail that has a good number of decent sized, but considerably smaller hills throughout the length and take an easy run on this course but make an effort every time you reach an uphill and use the downhill as a bit of a recovery, then continue on.

Increasing and Varying Mileage


Keeping a constant pattern of where, how far/long, and what you run for your workouts is fine, however try to change things up throughout the summer, run in different areas and make slight up or down shifts in mileage on a given run and make it up or take the miles from another part of your week it will help your training from becoming tedious or boring. That brings me to increasing mileage. Your overall pattern for the summer should be one of increasing mileage in most cases. Most runners can improve a great deal simply from running more miles. You should aim to go into your season running at least 45-50 miles a week. However, increase slowely. About 5 miles per week and by no more than about 10% of your mileage. Most athletes at the highschool level should also not really need to run more than 55-65 miles per week, although all runners are different and some may need more or less, some may be fine running 30 MPW others may run in the upper spectrum of things all the way up to the 90's.


Beating the Heat


I also feel that a section on dealing with the summer temperature was necessary. You should plan around the weather. Try to get your runs in in the morning before the thermometer starts to rise. You don't need to wake up tremendously early, but you should plan to be up well before noon unless you want to go...what's the saying...out of the frying pan and into the fire?




So, that is my small overview on summer training. Hopefully it will be of use to somebody, and good luck to anyone out there!

I will work on a guide for some other helpful tips for runners and a guide for the much more brutal winter running season later on this year :(

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you should begin by taking a break.

Honestly, this is the part I prefer in your tutorial. I do not fulfill the criteria listed in the intoroduction of your topic, so I think I will start with that "taking a break" part. Let's see if tomorrow I will go deeper in your running program.Regards

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summer running guide before cross country seasonDesigning A Summer Running Program

I followed your workout last summer and my5k time improved dramatically. I dropped from a 21 min to a 18:50ish time. Thanks for the help, I plan to do it again next summer.

-reply by unknown


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