As preseason training for high school cross country begins, many athletes have questions. Fortunately, I have answers. Read on to see my answers to some of the most common questions about preseason training for cross country.

Preseason training for cross country does not have to be run at a fast pace. In fact, I encourage my runners to take it easy as they build up their endurance and their bodies to prepare for the season ahead. Consistency is the most important thing. Follow that training plan!

1. What can I do to best prepare for the season?
Runners should focus their efforts on building a strong foundation of endurance with consistent running. Incorporating strength training a few days a week will help prevent injuries and improve overall performance.

2. How many miles should I run?
Mileage is easy to quantify, but it’s really the quality of those miles that dictates overall training load. If we assume that most of the miles are being run at an easy pace, new runners may want to start with 15-20 miles a week, while more experienced runners may aim for 30, 40 or even 50 miles per week. It is important to gradually increase mileage over time to avoid injury. Your high school coach should provide you with a structure for your training based on your individual needs.

3. What about cross-training?
Cross-training can be an effective way to supplement running and prevent burnout. Activities such as cycling, swimming, or yoga can improve overall fitness and help develop necessary muscle groups for running. However, nothing trains the body for running as well as running. If you only have time for one activity and you’re not dealing with injuries, then running is the best and most specific form of training for the cross country runner.

4. What about hill work?
Hill work can be an excellent addition to any cross country training plan. When done correctly, It helps build strength and improves running form. Athletes should incorporate hills into their regular training runs.

5. What about speed work?
Interval training, tempo runs, and fartlek workouts are effective ways to incorporate speed work. However, these types of workouts place greater stress on the body than easy runs. To prevent injury, runners need to be very careful not to introduce too much speedwork while simultaneously increasing their mileage. Specific speedwork at race pace or faster is introduced during the regular season.

6. Can I skip a day?
Missing a day of training is not ideal, but it is important to listen to your body and avoid overtraining. If a day off is necessary, be sure to resume your training again immediately afterwards.

8. What if I miss a week?
Missing a week of training can be a setback, but it is not the end of the world. Athletes should pick up where they left off and make adjustments to their training plan as necessary.

7. Should I break up my long run into two parts?
Breaking up a long run into two shorter runs can be an effective way to increase mileage without overdoing it. However, it is important the combined runs don’t add too much stress to the body.

8. What is my EASY pace?
Paces can be determined using data points such as heart rate or blood lactate levels. However, an easy way to figure out training paces that is remarkably accurate is this: EASY/RECOVERY = (Current 5K pace plus 2 to 3 minutes) EASY/TRAINING = (Current 5K pace plus 1.5 to 2 minutes)





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