HS girls XC training - scratching my head

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Michigan Guy
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HS girls XC training - scratching my head

Post by Michigan Guy » Thu Jul 10, 2014 9:18 am

I have 17- and 15-year old daughters.

Here is some background on their training.
Both ran Cross Country in fall 2013 following a spring-summer training (before XC season) of about 30 weeks at 37 miles per week with the main workouts being CV repeats.
Both took the winter off.
They both have had low ferritin levels, but we’ve had that under control for over a year with Proferrin (heme), ferrous gluconate, and liver pill supplements.  The levels are checked every 3-4 months.
Started training again in Feb. 2014.  Neither ran Track in the spring.
By mid-May were up to about 40 miles per week.
They run six days a week.
Two big work-outs per week (1) CV repeats of 6 X 800m at about 3:10 with 200 meter jog, and (2) 4 mile tempo at about 6:55 per mile.  The two big work-out program has been underway for about 9 weeks at this level.
Other mileage is about 7 miles per day with 5 X 20 second strides as part of the run.  A few short hill repeats each week as well.

However, they are not able to hit 12:30 for a 2 mile.  They are hoping to be near 19:00 for the 5K this year, so an approx. 12:10 2-mile split will be required (a 12:10 would be perfect pacing, so this is probably the slowest split to reach 19:00).  Still a long ways off.

When I see the posts about Andrew Hunter and Josette Norris and their truly exceptional success with Tinman training, it just makes we wonder what the hey is going on.  It just isn’t adding up for me.

My girls don’t expect to end up at the levels of Andrew and Josette, but they really want to improve and make jumps in performance.  They get discouraged and as their spring-summer coach I’m left scratching my head.

Schebo
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Re: HS girls XC training - scratching my head

Post by Schebo » Thu Jul 10, 2014 9:58 am

You are doing 6x800 at a pace they can barely run for two miles with a 200 jog recovery? That would be a brutal session for an elite adult runner. The tempo is also too fast. It sems like you´re training them at a pace you hope they will run by the end of the season instead of adjusting the pace to their current fitness level.

Michigan Guy
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Re: HS girls XC training - scratching my head

Post by Michigan Guy » Thu Jul 10, 2014 10:52 am

Schebo,

I can accept your comments and consider them valid.  Yet, I'd ask you to read further below.

I have based the workouts less on time trials (which I've only done twice), but rather on how they are handling the workouts.  I believe that I am keeping the workouts within their capacities to absorb.  They are not struggling with the 800 m CV repeats nor with the tempo.  They are not fatigued the next day after the workouts (I do space the workouts by 3 days per the two per week).  I believe that they are training within themselves - training, not straining.

I honestly do not think that these workouts are extremely difficult for them.  A bit challenging (it is a workout), but not exhausting or fatiguing.  It is always possible that someone is deceiving themselves (i.e., I could be deceiving myself about the toughness of the workouts), but I've seen my girls under a lot of different conditions and I think I'm being accurate in my statements.

I would be interested in your further comments. 

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Re: HS girls XC training - scratching my head

Post by jKerska » Thu Jul 10, 2014 11:38 am

I agree with Schebo, doing 6x800 at just slower than 3200m pace with 200 jog is a brutal session. If in fact they are comfortable doing it, you've gotta ask yourself why their race times aren't faster?

Are you following those 800s with 200s or short hill repeats, are you following the tempos with 200s or short hill repeats? I really think a good deal of the magic in the system is not just "magic" CV pace but always following strength work with small bits of quality. The goal is to be strong but also coordinated at specific racing speeds.

Doing hill sprints or 20" fartlek strides on easy days doesn't quite capture the same effect.

Also, if you're going to do a weekly CV type session that is fine, but during a track season you cannot escape the fact that 150-400m repeats are essential for success. Some times you need to go away from tempo runs and train to run fast. 

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Re: HS girls XC training - scratching my head

Post by FTIR » Thu Jul 10, 2014 11:46 am

I agree with Schebo.  You have to train at the level they are at NOW, on the day of the workout without tapering and taking heat and everything else into account. 

If they couldn't run 12:30 in a time trial, you are not doing that unless the day was hot or something.

Look if we are wrong, they will be a little undertrained, so what.  If they are a little overtrained, big problem.

jKerska also has a good point.

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Re: HS girls XC training - scratching my head

Post by dilluh » Thu Jul 10, 2014 12:22 pm

6x800 in 3:10 isn't CV if they can't do 12:30 for the 2 mile, assuming similar weather and rest. 3:20-3:25 for those 800 reps would be more in line with their ability. "Handling" a workout can mean a lot of things. I find it easy to forget that the majority of track sessions should actually be very much under control.

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Re: HS girls XC training - scratching my head

Post by dkggpeters » Thu Jul 10, 2014 2:10 pm

You are having them run their 800's way to fast.  That is not a CV workout and considered a really hard session.  You state that they can handle the workout in which I disagree with you on this.  They are racing the workout and will crash and burn if you continue to push them this hard. 

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Re: HS girls XC training - scratching my head

Post by Captainblood » Thu Jul 10, 2014 2:40 pm

A very difficult concept to grasp for runners (including myself) is that just because you can run a workout faster or harder doesn't mean it is in your best interest to do so.  As a high school runner I desperately wanted to improve.  We had excellent cross country and track squads.  Let me just share with you a short sample of what a training week was like.  I had been running for just over a year and these workouts would have been done in 85 degree heat and high humidity.

Tuesday mile and 2 mile RACES

Wednesday 2 leg circuits (6 to 8 exercises including squats, leg press, etc) plus upper body weights then 6 x 440 @ mile PR - 10 secs/mile...last rep mile PR -40 secs/mile with 3 minute rest intervals

Thursday 5 miles hard on the beach

Friday 3 x 880 @ mile PR - 10 secs/mile with 5 minute rest intervals

My weekly mileage ranged from 15 miles to 50 miles.  I was often sick, but never hurt.  This was a typical week.  I considered these easy workouts.  I did much harder workouts (10 x 440) or ladders (mile, 3/4, 1/2, 1/4) at close to 100%.  My race times did improve, but mostly due to better pacing, better weather, or better competition.  My fitness never really improved.

I could run these workouts and I put 100% into every workout.  And if you had me run 5 x 1000 at CV pace with 200 jog recoveries I would have thought it was a joke.  But I know in my heart if I had just run consistent mileage with a Tinman tempo and a CV workout I would have been more consistent and run much faster times.

Your daughters are hammering just like I was.  But they don't know it's hammering.  Just like I didn't know.  I never improved despite running 3 or 4 extremely hard workouts every week.  And for a newer young runner improvement is almost guaranteed no matter what you do.  But I never moved the needle significantly.  And I burned out to boot.

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Re: HS girls XC training - scratching my head

Post by CoachRonG » Thu Jul 10, 2014 2:46 pm

I'll chime in too.  Use Tom's calculator http://www.runningprs.com/calculator.html and stick to the paces.
Just because you call it CV or Tempo doesn't make it CV or Tempo if it is being run too fast.
Just because the "appear to be handling" the sessions doesn't make them appropriate either and it likely just means your perceptions and reference points are off.  The proof is in the racing results.  I tell our kids, if you want to train faster you have to first race faster to earn it.

The "magic" of Tom's training is that it is MODERATE and consistent.  It was remarkable, about a decade ago when i had to adjust what I "believed was handleable" to the paces Tom suggested.  Slowed down the training, and the improvements went through the roof for the team.  It was a paradigm shift.

you say they can't run 12:30, if they were at 12:30 the appopriate CV pace for 800 would be about 3:19 and tempo pace would be about 7:12 per 1600.  Train at date pace (what they can do now) not goal pace (what you dream they can do)

If they are low in IRON, then that changes everything.  But if they were low in iron they probably couldn't finsh those 800s in 3:10 workouts.

If you want to follow Tom's methods, you have to actually follow the methods, not just borrow the vocabulary.  Everyone learns at their own pace.  If you slow down their training for a month or so and their iron level is good and they still don't improve, then check back in here.  I am sure if you asked Josette's coach he would tell you he was training her "much faster and harder" before adopting Tom's input.  but be careful with comparing to the Joestte's or Andrew's of the world.  They are REALLY talented.

Talk to their coaches about the other less talented kids on the team.  When you hear their stories of the consistent improvement of the mid packers, then that is an even more valid endorsement of the things that Tom teaches.

Michigan Guy
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Re: HS girls XC training - scratching my head

Post by Michigan Guy » Thu Jul 10, 2014 3:26 pm

Many thanks to all for your constructive and helpful comments.

I'm going to file this under "I AM deceiving myself about the toughness of the workouts."  See post 3 of this thread.

I'll back way off on the CV and Tempo paces.

Several comments were insightful to me:
Coach RonG - "if you want to train faster you have to first race faster to earn it."  In looking back through The Run Zone, I now see that as a major theme.  I was obviously making too many assumptions on appearances rather than timed performance.  It's better to taste the pudding than just to admire the appearance and call it Blue Ribbon.
dilluh - "Handling" a workout can mean a lot of things."  Again, my perception of them handling the workout was my mistake rather than having the timed performance dictate the training paces.
jKerska - "always following strength work with small bits of quality".  This is a concept that I'm not up on, so I was glad to hear of it.  I'd be interested in learning more.

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Re: HS girls XC training - scratching my head

Post by runthe8 » Thu Jul 10, 2014 6:19 pm

Andrew Hunter's coach/mom here.  I agree with everyone else.  Slow those girlies down!  I wouldn't even give Ciara, my 10:56 3200 girl that CV pace right now.  Ciara was a 19:10 5k girl last fall and I think she will be much faster this year. Yes, technically, her CV pace is 2:55 but she ran that race time about a month ago and right now is just getting in some miles, strides, a little tempo work as she builds up to where I want her mileage to be by the end of August.  This is the first summer the girl has actually TRAINED!  I'm keeping it a very moderate build up.  We will start CV/combo work in a couple of weeks. If your girls can't run 12:10 right now, don't base their CV off of that.  Slower is better.  And maybe even run 600's and not 800's for a while.  I like Ron's quote, "if you want to train faster, you have to first race faster to earn it."  I'm going to be using that quote quite a bit this season because I have  a few good "practicers" who don't race well.

Drew always runs his CV work at the correct pace and never tried to run harder just because he could have. Same with his tempo runs.  Same with his easy runs. I think this is very unusual for motivated high school athletes- they always want to run harder, faster, and more and think that is going to make them better.  Ciara is the same way.  I actually am going to need to speed her up a bit on her easy runs- she would go out and run 8:45 pace every day if I let her.  And I do let her sometimes, because she is social and likes to run with her slower teammates sometimes.

As for the mid-packers, they all made huge gains working at their correct CV pace and adding on small amounts of race pace work during track season.  I had a boy who was a 2:23 800 meter runner his freshman year.  He was a 19:03 5K guy the next fall, not particularly spectacular, but he did not run over the summer much at all.  I only coached him and the other kids for the first few weeks of cross country and then had to step down (long story...)  I started working with this boy and some others over the winter and was their coach this spring.  We started CV over the winter and did it religiously.  Spring track, this kid ran 2:06.  I suspect he will run quite a bit faster than 19:03 this fall.

I could tell you more stories about 10 more kids who were middle of the roaders and made huge improvements with basic Tinman training over the course of a winter and spring.  I am not all that great at the nuances of Tom's methods,  and understanding all the science behind every workout,  but I am pretty good at reading the kids and what they need to do and how they are feeling, responding, etc.  Every single kid I had this spring improved over their previous years performances, some by huge amounts, others moderately.  None of these kids were running as much mileage as your daughters, either.  I wish they were, however, but most had a history of injuries on very low mileage in the past so I had to be careful.

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Re: HS girls XC training - scratching my head

Post by jbarts » Mon Jul 14, 2014 10:32 pm

[quote="runthe8"]
Drew always runs his CV work at the correct pace and never tried to run harder just because he could have. Same with his tempo runs.  Same with his easy runs. I think this is very unusual for motivated high school athletes- they always want to run harder, faster, and more and think that is going to make them better.  Ciara is the same way.  I actually am going to need to speed her up a bit on her easy runs- she would go out and run 8:45 pace every day if I let her.  And I do let her sometimes, because she is social and likes to run with her slower teammates sometimes.

As for the mid-packers, they all made huge gains working at their correct CV pace and adding on small amounts of race pace work during track season.  I had a boy who was a 2:23 800 meter runner his freshman year.  He was a 19:03 5K guy the next fall, not particularly spectacular, but he did not run over the summer much at all.  I only coached him and the other kids for the first few weeks of cross country and then had to step down (long story...)  I started working with this boy and some others over the winter and was their coach this spring.  We started CV over the winter and did it religiously.  Spring track, this kid ran 2:06.  I suspect he will run quite a bit faster than 19:03 this fall.

I could tell you more stories about 10 more kids who were middle of the roaders and made huge improvements with basic Tinman training over the course of a winter and spring.  I am not all that great at the nuances of Tom's methods,  and understanding all the science behind every workout,  but I am pretty good at reading the kids and what they need to do and how they are feeling, responding, etc.  Every single kid I had this spring improved over their previous years performances, some by huge amounts, others moderately.  None of these kids were running as much mileage as your daughters, either.  I wish they were, however, but most had a history of injuries on very low mileage in the past so I had to be careful.
[/quote]

Again, my experience mirrors runthe8's experience. In coaching a 9:15 boy last year, and a different 9:05/14:37 one this year (Tinman put together workouts for his track seasons after I was not happy with how I put things together for XC...he had a great season, but I tweaked the training a little too much) he NEVER felt the need to run faster than he was told. Part of this is because he saw the success he had (from 10:45 as a frosh) from sticking to the program, for him, the other other top guy, but also for his SLOWER teammates.

I can't tell you how many kids consistently, steadily improve when you just focus on "keeping the ball rolling." Gradual progress! One boy last season took 2:35 off his 5k time to move into my 5th man slot; another has taken 10 minutes off over four years. He also went from 1:43 in the 600 to a 1:23 over two years after keeping some aerobic workouts in his track program. There are other factors (growth) that come into play, but by being gradual and consistent, the kids stay injury free and have fun everyday because they can see the results. If I look at my roster, I see a ton of stories of improvement only from being focused on consistency, repeatable workouts, and keeping things fun.
Formerly Swampscott XC (MA). Now Danvers MA XC/T&F

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Re: HS girls XC training - scratching my head

Post by BURN7 » Wed Jul 16, 2014 10:09 pm

I will also be happy to contribute to this thread as I was in a similar spot during Josette's junior season.  I had been following the Joe Vigil plan (aggressive mile repeats) and was very concerned looking at her during and after those efforts with regards to "wow she is going to the well".  I found this site and immediately changed my approach.  CV baby...that was it.  I am going to be honest...when I prescribed the workouts I was skeptical since it seemed "slow", but if you search older BURN7 comments you will see I quickly became a believer.

When she had a PB of 5:08 in the 1,600 I assigned her repeat 1,000s at CV the winter of her junior year.  That was 2:55 per 800.  Her tempo was 6:25 for ONLY 3 miles and in the beginning I gave her 1 to 2 minutes off after each mile.  By the end of January she was running 3 miles straight.  Those paces were actually was a bit aggressive since her 5:08 came when she was at the end of the racing season her soph spring.  She eventually lowered that time to 5:00 by February during Indoor Track and I then lowered her CV pace to 2:51.5 through the 800 and her tempo was 6:15.

Truth be told I KEPT her CV and Tempo paces exactly there following the last race of the winter season.  She had run 5:00 and 10:43 for the full 2 mile race and those were her training times.  In May she ran a 4:48 for the full mile A 13 second PR and the CV/Tempo was the same as it was when she ran 5:00.

Date pace is critical.  Of course once she ran 4:48 her CV/Tempo had changed to 2:44 for CV through the 800 and 6:00 for the tempo but that only happened in Mid-May.  She then ran 4:45 for 1,600 and a few days later ran 4:41 in early June.  Long story short...use the calculator and don't deviate and don't be aggressive. 

The following XC season (prior to injury) her summer training was SIMPLE.  Her runs were rarely faster than 8:00 per mile during the base phase unless she was running a weekly progression run.  She would work down to 6:20 pace for the last mile but that was it.  She hit 35 miles during the track season when she ran 4:41 and 10:29 for 3,200 and the summer following that she worked up to 45.  Nothing crazy but my point is that the CV/Tempo despite low mileage still allowed her to run a 17:36 on a pretty hill XC course. 

Once September of her senior year rolled around I entered a very conservative date pace of 11:00 for the 3,200.  This was a girl who ran 10:29 in 45 degree rain and wind the May prior but I was being safe.  Her CV through the 800 was 2:56 and the tempo was 6:26.  By November she ran 17:36 and followed it up with another sub 18:00 effort the following week.  You want your girls to run fast when it matters right?  In NJ top 6 move on at the state series (3 meets total) so if you are burnt out or hit the peak too early your season is over by almost a month!  Now unfortunately Josette ruptured her Plantar which had nothing to do with her training, but was apparently due to high arches and a compensation issue from an ankle sprain during her junior year.  She ran really fast despite the plantar slowing her down.  Trust the system and if you don't have a full grasp don't hesitate to ask more questions!  If that does not work hire Tom.

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