New HS Cross-Country coach - Help!!

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New HS Cross-Country coach - Help!!

Post by Run4ms » Sat Jun 07, 2014 10:04 am

Good morning running community - I am not new to running as I specifically train for the marathon.  However, I have decided to help coach our local HS cross team (boys/girls).  I am in need of some guidance of where to start with the kids ...they are very raw and need a ton of work.

I am open to any advice on training, i.e., types of workouts that are key for HS runners, days per week to run, how many miles should they run, prioritization, etc.

Thank you so much guys! ;D

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Re: New HS Cross-Country coach - Help!!

Post by toughnessbucket » Mon Jun 09, 2014 1:09 pm

Here are some thoughts from earlier Tinman's earlier posts on the same subject that I have found borrowed and have found very beneficial. I hope he does not mind that I have copied and pasted for you.

High School Mileage
1st time runners - run ~30 minutes per day, 5 days per week; build up to it over 6 week's time.

After 1 year of full-time running (running ~8 months during that year - not necessarily continuously) - 40 minutes per day, 6 days per week. Note that's an average, not a restriction of what can be done on any given day!

After 2 years of full-time running (~9 months of running per year, not necessarily continuously)- 50 minutes per day, 6 days per week. That's the average per day! It would be fine to run 30 minutes on an "Easy" day and 70 minutes on a Long Day for an average "per run" of 50 minutes. Mix it up!

After 3 years of full-time running (~10 months per year, with 4 x 2-week breaks per year) - 60 minutes per day of running, 6 days per week. A runner might alternate 40 minutes and 80 minutes, for example or even do straight 60-minute runs. Imagination & dedication are the only real limitation!

After 4 years of full-time running (~10.5 months per year, with 3 x 2-week breaks per year) - 60-90 minutes per day, 6-7 days per week (depending upon cultural, religious, and family obligations).

Six hours of running can equate to varying amounts of mileage, depending upon a runner's fitness level and average pace per mile (velocity). One runner might average 8:30 per mile, covering 7 miles per hour run; 42 miles per week. Another might run 6 hours, too, but average 7:00 per mile; 56 miles per week.

A senior boy who is very fit may average 6:30 per mile and run 7 hours per week with no difficulty. His mileage would be ~65 per week. A top-notch runner who is very dedicated might run 9-10 hours per week as a senior can cover 83-92 miles per week, during heavier periods of training. An average runner who is minimally dedicated would probably cover half that amount their senior year.
I recommend taking 2 weeks of "down time" or active rest after the fall cross-country season, in the middle of the winter (let's say late January) and then again after the outdoor track season.

By down time I mean reduced activity. Normally I recommend that serious runners take 5 days completely off, then jog 20-30 minutes during the next 5 days and conclude the 14-day down-time (active rest) by jogging 30-45 minutes for 4 additional days.

*If a runners takes off the whole 2 weeks (no running at all), they will lose about 6 weeks of fitness - and it will take that long to get back to where they left off.

Each week during the "off season" - meaning when you are not racing or not much, do the following:

1) CV Fartlek - 50-60 minutes, including 20 minutes of pickups at CV effort. Example, 10 x 2 minutes at CV pace (effort), jog 1-2 minutes between pickups. Do 4 x 30 seconds, too, at about 1-mile pace (effort), jogging 90 seconds between each pickup.

2) Long Tempo (a.k.a. Tinman Tempo) - 15 minutes EZ, 30-40 minutes at about 3k to 5k pace plus 1 minute per mile, 10 minutes cool down.

3) Long Run - on the weekend, run 90-120 minutes, EZ. If you feel good, pick up the pace over the last 2-3 miles to about Long Tempo (Tinman Tempo) pace.

2-3 times per week, do 4-6 x 100m at about 1-mile pace. THe first one or two might be slower, until your muscle are relaxed. Don't sprint and don't force the speed. Let it come to you! Jog about 200m between each strider.

4) 3-4 times per week run 30-40 minutes, Slow and Relaxed.
During Racing Season, do CV intervals instead of CV fartlek. Shoot for 5-6 km of reps. Example, 5-6 x 1k at CV pace (roughly 10 seconds per km over 5k race pace), jog 1 minute between reps. I recommend that you do the reps on grass, if possible. Afterward, choose between 30 second hill charges (about 4- 6 of them) at about 2-mile race-pace (go by effort), 200m reps on the flats at 1-mile pace (about 4-6 of them), jogging 200m between each, or 100m reps at 800m pace (about 4-6 of them), jogging 100m between each.

During Racing season:

You should do an intense session or race every 2-3 weeks. An example of a race substitute might be 6 x 800m at 5k pace, jog 400m recoveries.

When you compete during a given week skip the Long Tempo workout. Still do the CVs and the Long Run! But, you may have to run slower during your Long Run because your legs might be sore from racing.

If you don't run a race during a given week, do the Tinman Long Tempo Run but add hill charges or 200s at 1-mile pace, afterward. Try 4-6 reps.

15 year old XC training
1) Raise her weekly mileage to the 30's before official xc practice begins (assuming that's in mid-August). This is important because she will likely be hammered into the ground with fast intervals and frequent racing during the xc season; if she is accustom to more mileage (even if it is slow paced), she will be able to absorb the typical abuse of xc season training given by most coaches. The key is to get mileage up there and then keep it there throughout the fall xc season. Note that even at 30-35 miles per week, you daughter will have zero need to taper for a big race at the end of the season. Forget everything you have read about tapering - it doesn't apply to low mileage runners.

2) Create a 2-week training cycle that is repeated over and over this summer. In that 2-week cycle include one CV workout (use repeat 600's, with 200 jogs between reps), one RC workout (you probably think of it as LT) (use repeat 1,000's, with 200 jogs between reps), one hill rep session (25 second reps at about 1-mile racing effort, walk down the hills to recover), one strider session (repeat 100's on grass - in bare feet, if the grass is safe) at 1-mile racing rhythm/speed (jog 100 between reps), and two long runs (at a comfortable/easy pace). Other days are slow paced distance runs - just "putting in the distance" to get her body stronger.

Paces for a 13:20 (2-mile) runner:

CV 600's: 2:35
RC 1000's: 4:33
Tempo per mile: 7:33 to 7:43
EZ per mile: 9:15 or slower
V.EZ per mile: near 9:55 or slower
CV progression: 4 x 600 (jog 200) ---> 8 x 600 (jog 200) by mid-August
RC progression: 3 x 1000 (jog 200) ----> 6 x 1000 (jog 200) by mid-August
Tempo progression: 2 miles steady ----> 4 miles steady by mid-August
Long run progression: 5 miles easy ----> 8 miles easy over rolling hills
EZ runs progression: 3 miles easy ----> 5 miles easy on flat terrain
w-ups progression: 1 mile easy and 3 x 100 at 5k speed (rest 15 seconds between reps) ----> 1.5 miles easy and 6 x 100 at 5k speed (rest 15 seconds between reps)
c-down progression: 3 x 100 at 5k speed (rest 15 seconds between reps) and 1 mile jog -----> 6 x 100 at 5k speed (rest 15 seconds between reps) and 1.5 mile jog
If you don't know what your daughter's 2-mile time is, have her run 6 laps on an outdoor track at top speed. Then, to set up her training paces for reps and tempos, which should be on grass only, add 2 seconds per 400 to her average pace from the 2400m time-trial. If she runs 94 seconds per 400 on the track for her 2400m Time-Trial, then make the pace 96 seconds per 400 on smooth grass.
You don't need to do more than one time-trial this summer. Just subtract 1 second per 400m every two weeks, as long as she trains steadily and has no problems. *Adjust for hot/humid weather.

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Re: New HS Cross-Country coach - Help!!

Post by Tinman » Mon Jun 09, 2014 11:29 pm

As I look back at the post I made, shown above, I realize I've shared a good training method, one for which other coaches typically charge a fee. I hope you guys appreciate it!  ;)
(coaching available)
Inquire via email:

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Re: New HS Cross-Country coach - Help!!

Post by Run4ms » Mon Jun 09, 2014 11:41 pm

I appreciate it a GREAT DEAL Tinman!

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