Cross Country – Out of 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.
Layne Anderson – University of Iowa
I provide each athlete with a summer training packet that details exactly what I would like to have them do each day. Pre-season training first begins with rest and recovery. Following a two-week break at the completion of the spring track season each athlete begins building mileage over a three-week build-up phase. Athletes are assigned to one of two groups based upon previous level of training, injury status, new or returning athlete, etc. Week four sees the addition of a controlled tempo run on Saturday. The emphasis on the tempo run is to focus on an effort that has the athlete running at 65%-75% effort. I stress that running efficiency and economy are the focal point of the workout. The distance of the steady run will increase over the summer, but the effort is always focused at 65%-75%. Morning runs are added for designated athletes beginning Week 7, in addition to a second workout day at the beginning of the week (Tue). Fartlek runs are added to the program on Tuesday, with an emphasis on longer minutes. An example would be a 2-4-6-4-2 (minutes) Fartlek with equal rest at 75% and 65 % effort on the up-tempo and cruise tempo. I provide them with the freedom to set the minutes as they would like and I designate the number of miles they are to run for the workout.
An essential part of the summer program, but more importantly to their success later down the road, is the fact that we back things down Week 9. We have eliminated the fartlek (Tue) and tempo (Sat) runs for the week and are focused on easy mileage to give the mind and body a refresher week. The athlete resumes the traditional program during Week 10 and carries this structure for the final three weeks of the summer. The mileage is built over the summer to a level that allows the group to begin training Week 1 of the cross country season. I would classify my program as a moderate mileage program. It is my belief that developing athletes gain more through the emphasis on the quality days than the addition of an extra 15-20 miles at recovery pace.
Jim Boughton – Dubuque Senior (Past Away 2010)
Take at least 2 to 4 weeks off after both Track and Cross Country, but jog 20 minutes twice a week during off time.
Off-season should be mainly distance running at a comfortable pace.
Our goal is to get in shape to “be in shape” for the first day of practice.
We meet as a team once a week in July and twice a week in August, the athletes run as far as they want to, it’s not a structured practice. A boys or girls coach is at the team runs. I talk to kids at the runs and ask them what they’re doing on their own, but I do not monitor the summer very closely.
We want experienced runners to start running 4 to 5 days a week in early July (about 20 to 30 miles per week) and to be up to 5 to 6 days a week in August (30 to 45 miles per week).
One day a week over hills, some strides after distance runs.
Some runners have done one day a week of intervals with some success, we may do this next summer.
We have a fitness test the first day of cross country practice which consists of a build-up run of up to 4 miles.
We run together, starting at a slow jog, than pick up speed each lap.
I signal every 100 meters and they adjust their speed.
They stop when they can’t keep up.
We use results of this test to choose our varsity for our first meet; knowing they’re going to have to this the first day encourages those who intend to run varsity to report for the season in shape.
We encourage involvement in other activities that are fun and will help their conditioning, biking,
swimming, canoeing, rollerblading, weights, etc.
I encourage athletes, especially freshmen, to go out for a winter sport.
Those not out for winter sports are encouraged to run 3 to 5 days a week on their own.
Because of non-contact rules, we cannot be any more specific than this.
Scott Conway – South Winneshiek
The off season is exactly that off season.
I tell my girls if you are going to be out of shape make sure you’re out of shape out of season.
I don’t monitor them at all. My only rule is when it’s not fun stop.
If it stays fun, run.
Kevin Kearney – South Winneshiek
I encourage consistent running during the summer. I don’t believe in high mileage summers, but
I do like to see my kids put in 15 to 25 miles per week – although most probably don’t run that
much. I don’t “monitor or demand” that they run, but I do ask them to keep some sort of a
training log so I know where we are starting at when the season begins.
Timm Lamb – Ft. Madison (Retired)
We stay basically with long runs – many of athletes are involved in other sports so it makes it
hard to have them do anything.
We like to have them run one long run a week – 6 miles, continue with the hill workouts and hit the weights.
Monitoring in the off season:
We have not monitored our runners in the off season in the past. We provide them with information to monitor themselves through mileage, weights, feelings, time, diet, etc. We have found that the runners and the coaches need that time away from each other. This has created
a much better relationship between athlete and coach. I do see our runners just about everyday at school because I teach at the High School. I am able to keep up on their activities and school work this way. One thing we do is monitor our students academic progress each week during the season and provide the teachers with a means of letting everyone involved know the academic progress.
Glenn Daniels – Olathe, Kansas (Previously Indianola)
What I ask of my athletes off season is to be consistent. Getting in a lot of workouts is better than getting in a few great ones. At the start of the summer I talk with every athlete about where they want to be in the fall, and what it will take to reach that goal. I am fairly relaxed about summers, because I do tell them when the season starts in the fall, we will be starting right in on uptempo, and you better be ready for it.
I only monitor when I see kids around, or if I haven’t seen kids in a while. Indianola is a small enough town that if they’re out running, I’ll either see them, or hear about it. Maybe I’m too laid back, but the kids seem to enjoy this way better, and we’ve been fairly successful.