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Cross Country – Early Season

Your IATC hopes you find the following suggestions and helpful ideas benefitial to your Cross Country program. We have asked a number of outstanding coaches to share their thoughts of how and what they are and/or have been doing to produce the great teams and individuals during their coaching career. Each coach has seen his/her teams produce numerous conference, district and state high finishes and titles over the years.

Marty Gingerich-Iowa Mennonite Schools

During the first couple of weeks of practice we are introducing team members to what the rest of the season will be like. We spend time getting to know each other, learning what my expectations are of them (to live the lifestyle of a runner during the 10 or 11 weeks of the season) and determining individual and team goals.

In terms of training part of my goal in the first couple of weeks is to get everyone to the point where by the third week we are all on the same schedule. Monday, Wednesday and Friday are usually strength training days. On these days we do some sort of ab workout or a core workout prior to running. After running we do a circuit of exercises in the weight room that includes exercises for both upper and lower body. These are mainly with body weight like pushups, one legged squats, back extensions, pull-ups, etc.) We start this on the first day and continue throughout the season.

Most of the runners have done at least some summer running but some have not done any. Since our team is small (less than 20 both boys and girls combined) I am able to help each individual determine how much to run each day. For the ones who haven’t run over the summer we may alternate between runs of 2 and 3 miles working up to a long run of 4 by the end of the two weeks.

For everyone else our first week looks like this.
Monday – recovery run of 3-6 miles.
Tuesday – long run of 6-10 miles.
Wednesday – recovery run of 3-7 miles followed by barefooted strides on the grass.
Thursday – recovery run of 3-7 miles with strides.
Friday – QUALITY. (Our workouts are all preceded by a dynamic warmup and followed by an easy cool down.) The workout is 20 minutes of continuous threshold followed by strides on the grass or 4 x 200 on the road.
Sat/Sun – one recovery run on their own and one day off. The new runners get the weekend off.

Second Week.
This is our only week all season with three quality workouts. Again, this is just for athletes who have been running during the summer.
Monday – QUALITY. This is a repetition workout of 4-6 x 300-400m on a gradual hill at mile race pace effort with full recoveries.
Tuesday – recovery run.
Wednesday – QUALITY. 5 x four minutes at current 5k or 4k pace with 3:30 rest. Each runner has a predetermined distance to complete during the segments based on their current fitness. I determine this from their threshold pace on the prior Friday.
Thursday – recovery run.
Friday – QUALITY. Threshold on the course followed by 4 x 200m depending on the weather. They aren’t always up to the 200s after the threshold.
Sat/Sun – one long run and one day off.

Tony Bussan-Webster City

Week One: We went at 7am each day to avoid the extreme heat.
Monday: Long Run (what’s long for you), Minimum of 25 to 30 minutes conversational pace for those just starting their training all the way to a maximum of 60-70 minutes for upperclassmen who followed the summer plan. 6-8 80m strides at race pace and dynamic stretching following the run.
Tuesday: Easy run (recovery) Minimum 25-30 minutes for newbies 40-45 for vets in shape. Core Strength Routine (10 core strength exercises, done as team) Strides to finish (possible 2nd daily run for high mileage upperclassmen, 20-30 min. easy)
Wednesday: Hill loops, (repeated runs up very short, low grade hills), Fit runners go continuous for 30-40 minutes plus warmup and cool down. Newbies run cone progression up one hill, walk down recovery, go farther up each time, under coaches constant watch, cut off before too stressed.
Thursday: Same as Tuesday
Friday: 800m Cruise Intervals at estimated lactate threshold effort, (tough to gauge this early, but very controlled introduction to it for newbies and all kids supervised by coaches. Done at pace just beyond conversational effort, you can say 3-5 word fragments, but the work is hard enough you would rather not.) 4-7 x 800m with 45 second recoveries. Coaches monitor pace and cut off before anyone goes in the tank. 1-2 mile warmup w/ dynamic stretches and 1-3 mile cool down.
Saturday: 25-45 minutes at conversational pace with dynamic stretching and strides after.
Sunday: Day of rest

Week Two:
Monday: 2-3 mile warmup, Dynamic Stretching and strides, Mile time trial on track, (pumped up to give their best effort, over 2/3 set new personal records. Used to begin estimating training paces and to offer advice prior to full distance time trial/race), 1-3 mile cool down.
Tuesday: Long Run, 30-70 min depending on fitness and current training, run with those who were near you in time trial, conversational pace, Strides, Dynamic Stretching, Core Strength Routine
Wednesday: Easy Run,30-45 minutes, Dynamic Stretching, 6-8 x 150m at mile race pace to finish.(possible 2nd run for trained vets)
Thursday: 800m Cruise Intervals, (Same as last Friday), Done with those near your time trial time, Number of bouts adjusted by the coach based upon training levels.
Friday: Easy run, 25-50 minutes, strides, dynamic and core
Saturday: Out and back run, (Run away from school at relaxed effort within your training group, turn around at halfway time designated by coach and try to get back back in less time) Strides and dynamic stretching
Sunday: Day of Rest

Brian Martz – Iowa City West

Week # 1

Recovery week for the advanced runners. Only ½ of the mileage from the week before (25-30). No intervals, no hills, no fartlek, no tempo etc… just straight easy running. Since we are at our camp this week, it gives the new guys a chance to get up to speed on our warm-up routines, do some easy running, participate in team building activities and discussions to educate about the sport, nutrition, training guidelines and so on.

Week # 2 Advanced Group

10 min warm-up, stretching.
Abs & Push-ups
7 miles at recovery pace. (6:50-7:10)
8 Hill build-ups.

10 min warm-up, dynamic stretching routine
Cruise Intervals @ Willow Creek Park on grass
10 x 1k w/90 sec recovery 3 x 3:45, 3 x 3:37, 3 x 3:30, 1 x AFAP
1 mile cool-down stretching

10 min warm-up, stretching
Abs & Push-ups
7 miles at recovery pace.
10 striders on the track.

5 miles recovery pace. Weights.

Oregon Drills @ U of I CC Course
1 mile warm-up, dynamic stretching
(8 x) = 1200meters
400 @ 5k goal pace, 200 surge up a gradual hill, turn around,
200 downhill jog, 400 @ 5k goal pace back to the start line.
2-3min recovery.
1 mile jog cool-down

10 minute warm-up, stretching
10 miles @ recovery pace

Sunday: No running

Week # 3 Advanced Group

Monday: 7 miles @ recovery pace, Weights

2 mile time trial @ Willow Creek Park
Easy 4 – 6 miles
Abs & pushups

Wednesday: 8 – 10 miles Weights

10k of intervals at varying distances and speeds starting with longer and slower and finishing with shorter and faster.
Should include a medium sized hill.

Pre-meet workout Abs & pushups
Easy 5 miler

Saturday: Cedar Rapids Prairie Inv.

Sunday: Light jogging & stretching on your own

Layne Anderson – University of Iowa

Following a successful summer program athletes are ready to begin Week 1 with a program that follows a set structure throughout the year. At Iowa we begin the season with a team training camp to Galena, Illinois. Team meetings where goals and objectives are discussed is a big aspect to the training camp. Additionally, I meet with the athletes individually to discuss their own personal goal sheet. We set short term, intermediate, and long term goals and discuss what we see as the necessary steps to achieving these goals. It is my belief that athletes must be subjected to elements that will be a part of competition in training to develop confidence in their ability to accept the challenges that are a part of racing. Just as we built the mileage over the summer we build the level of training over the course of the season. I like to race every other week to provide the athletes with the opportunity to complete three quality training sessions and one moderate workout between races. We open with a low key race at a distance shorter than the traditional 5k and now 6k distance that are standard for championship races. Early in the season the emphasis of the program is on building cross country specific strength.
The week is structured as follows:
Sunday: Long Run + Circuits
Monday: A.M. Run + Recovery Run + Strides
Tueday: A.M. Run + Workout
Wednesday: Recovery Run + Circuits
Thurday: A.M. Run + Workout (race week)
Recovery Run + Strides (non race week)
Friday: A.M. Run + Workout (non race week)
Meet Warm-up (race week)
Saturday: Race or Recovery Run
Circuits focus on building core strength and muscle endurance. Athletes are paired, moving from station to station. Each station is comprised of one upper or lower body exercise and one abdominal exercise. Athletes perform the exercise for 45 seconds, at which time they switch with their partner. Each athlete completes two rounds of the upper or lower body exercise and two rounds of the abdominal exercise before rotating to the next station. Eight minutes of abdominal exercises are completed at the end of the circuit. We add variety to the circuit program by rotating through three different circuits during the course of the year.
(Circuits are shown in Training/Track & Field/Strength Training)
The core of the training is centered around the following training elements.
Tempo Runs: 4-6 miles @ 75% effort
Fartlek Training: Minutes
Hill Repeats: Running or High Knee Drill
Intervals: Longer Repeats (Mixed with Tempo, Fartlek, Hills)

We train on grass or trails and avoid running on harder surfaces. Another aspect to our program that aids in keeping athletes healthy is our use of the pool and the elliptical as a method of cross training. Additionally, we place a significant amount of emphasis on recovery and using the cold whirlpool. Each workout follows a set structure to include a warm-up run (15 minutes), stretching circuit (rope), sprint mechanic drills, strides, workout, and warm down (inclusive of time in the training room). Athletes complete the warm-up routine as a group and are then divided into groups for the workout.
Warm-up Activities
12 – 15 minutes of light jogging
Stretching Set – 15 minutes
Stretching Rope Circuit
Hurdle Stretch
Quad Stretch
Slant Board or Calf stretch

Dynamic Flexibility Drills – Do these each day you have a quality session.
10 x Leg Swings (Facing Forward) R & L
10 x Leg Swings (Facing Sideways) R & L
10 x Bicycles
10 x Sagital Scissors – Side to Side
10 x Inverted Scissors – Front & Back
10 x Eagles
10 x Stomach Eagles

Sprint Mechanic Drills – Alternate each set between workouts.
Set A: Set B:
“A” Skip Side to Side Skips
“B” Skip Carioca
High Knees Power Skips
Single Quick Leg Backward Hamstring
Butt Kicks Toe Taps

Jim Boughton – Dubuque Senior (Passed Away 2010)

Typical Early Season
Monday: warm-up, 4 to 10 short loops (300-400 meters) with hills, 1 to 3 mile distance run
Tuesday: 2 to 6 mile distance run, 8 x 100 stride with good form, 5 minutes jog on grass
Wednesday: 2 to 5 miles easy distance run
Thursday: 2½ to 6 mile on flat route with 1 to 3 miles at anaerobic threshold in the middle, 2 x 150 stride, 5 minutes of jogging
Friday: 2 to 4 miles easy run, 4 x 100 stride, 5 minutes of jogging
Saturday: 5 to 12 mile distance run, First half comfortable, 2nd half faster if you feel good (Shorter distances for rookies, longer for varsity)

Scott Conway – South Winneshiek

Early season we start off pretty slow. For those that ran during the off-season, I start with about 14 to 21 mile weeks.
Monday: A long run of 3 miles.
Tuesday: Up tempo run of 2 miles.
Wednesday: Moderate run of 3 miles.
Thursday: Up tempo run of 3 miles.
Friday: Moderate run of 2 miles.
Saturday: Time a mile and run 3 miles moderate.
Sunday: Off or 3 miles on your own.

The second week I up each day by a mile.
For those girls that haven’t run I start them at a mile a day.
The second week 2 miles a day and then the third week they start where the rest ran.

Kevin Kearney – South Winneshiek

These are workouts that my boy’s teams have done over the past two or three seasons.
Our girls do virtually the same thing, although pace and total mileage are adjusted to some degree.

Week One:

Monday: Easy run, 3 to 5 miles Weights
Tuesday: Easy run, 3 to 5 miles
Wednesday: Long run, 4 to 6 miles Weights
Thursday: Easy run, 2 to 4 miles
Friday: Build up run, 3-5 miles. 1st 1/2 easy, next 1/2 gradually increase pace until the end. Weights
Saturday: Optional easy run
Sunday: OFF

Timm Lamb – Ft. Madison (Retired)

First 2 weeks:
We run 2 workouts a day – am/pm
One day a week we run a timed interval workout. We run for a certain distance in a given time.
None of our workouts are mandatory

First Two Weeks:
Monday: 2 to 4 miles in the am – 4 to 6 miles in the pm
Tuesday: 2 to 4 miles in the am – 4 to 6 miles in the pm
Wednesday: 2 to 4 miles in the am – 4 to 6 miles in the pm
Thursday: 2 to 4 miles in the am – 4 to 6 miles in the pm
Friday: 2 to 4 miles in the am – 4 to 6 miles in the pm
2nd Friday: Hill workout for strength
Saturday: 4 miles with Saturday practice
Sunday: 4 miles

Randy Fahr – Eldora New Providence (Retired)

We break the 11 weeks from the first legal day until State into either 3 or 4 phases, depending on the runner. The early season is base building. It will vary according to the miles they bring in from the summer running and the runners experience. We will play some games and keep it loose and fun during this entire first 3 week phase. Each of these 3 weeks will contain 2 long runs, a fartlek workout, continuous or segmented threshold training, and some hills. In the 3rd week we have our first meet and possibly a long repetition practice. The threshold workouts need to really be monitored so kids learn pace and do not run them too fast, too early. We try to start with 3 x 1 mile at a pace 30 to 45 seconds slower than what I feel is their 5K pace, with 1 minute rest. The pace will get faster in this workout as the year progresses. The girls also do this workout, but usually start with 2 reps. We are trying to build mileage during this phase.

Steve Dennison – California

One early season Cross Country workout the kids like is 100 x 100m. All are run between 15 and 20 seconds 5-10 seconds rest and back. Rest and water after 50, 5 minute water break and back at it. It sounds easy until you get to about 60 -100 then they figure out this is a hard work-out.

Glenn Daniels – Olathe, Kansas

Typical early season workout will still have more mileage to it, though I am definitely a low mileage man, but speed and endurance start right away. The off-season was for long, slow distance.This was the second week of the official seasons workout this past year:

Saturday is the rest day in my program, because we usually do something uptempo on Monday, and I feel they respond better coming off of an easy day than off of a day of rest

Second Week of the Season:

Warmup from HS to course (approx. 1 1/2 miles)
1 x pond loop (around a mile long with 3 good hills in it)
5 min rest
4 x 200m hill, charge up, coast down
Warm down from course to HS

Varsity: 40 – 45 min easy run
JV: 30 – 35 min easy run
(this workout was run very easy this year as it was 90+ out)

2 mile Warmup to the track
800m at pace (100 walk – 100 jog)
400m at pace (100 walk – 100 jog)
1200m at pace (walk 400m, get drink)
400m at pace (100 walk – 100 jog)
200m at pace (100 walk – 100 jog)
800m at pace (100 walk – 100 jog)
1 1/2 mile Warm down to HS

Varsity: 5 miles, start easy, pace increases toward end
JV: 4 miles, same as varsity on pace

1 1/2 mile Warmup to college campus
2 man relays around main campus (around 650m of run, with around 250m jog to get back across before teammate gets there)
Each man runs three legs, then 10 min rest, each man runs two legs1 1/2 mile Warm down to HS
Saturday: REST!!!!

30 – 35 min easy run on your own