We practice two days each week, and we focus on speed one day and distance/hills one day. The goals of the distance and hill workouts are to build strength and endurance. There are several goals for the speed workouts.
The first goal is to practice running faster. Once a person (adult or child) is in shape, their race times tend to level off, and the only way to bring them down to a new level is to practice running faster.
The second goal is to learn about pacing. When they do the speed workouts, the goal is not just to run as fast as they can, their goal is to run at or slightly below their race pace. By doing these workouts, they are teaching their bodies how to pace themselves during a race. During the 400 meter interval track workouts, the coaches have a chart the runners look at throughout the workout to compare their 400 meter times to their mile pace to help them reach their goal pace.
A third goal is to help their bodies learn how to run when they are tired. The first part of a speed workout shouldn’t be as hard, but they get hard has the workout progresses. By forcing their bodies to learn how to run when they don’t have as much energy left, and the lactic acid may be building up, they are teaching their bodies how to adjust to a race situation, most specifically to the second half of a race.
On Thursday we generally do our distance runs. We do our speed days on Tuesdays since their meets are on Saturday, we like to give their legs more time to recover. We have a couple weeks of building up distance the first few weeks of practice, and a couple weeks of tapering at the end of the season, but throughout the season, the speed days follow a logical progression of building up their distance and speed.
week 1: 400 meter intervals (5x)
week 2: 200 meter intervals (8x)
week 3: 400 meter intervals (6x)
week 4: 200 meter intervals (9x)
week 5: 400 meter intervals (7x)
week 6: 200 meter intervals (1 Ox)
week 7: 400 meter intervals (8x)
week 8: 200 meter intervals (6x) – beginning of taper
This is elementary school cross country and the coaches understand that every runner is not going to be at every practice, many are involved in many sports and activities. The workouts are designed to gradually build them up as runners and they (individually and as a team) will get the most out of their cross country season if they are able to follow this progression of workouts. Many times before runners train for a large race, they will follow a training program, and they won’t miss certain workouts before moving on to the next one. The training program your children are following is designed for the distances and times they are running in elementary school.
If you have any questions about cross country, please feel comfortable asking the coaches at any practice, calling me, or sending me an email.
Thank you so much for all your time you spend at cross country practices and meets, we are having a great season and are enjoying developing your children into amazing runners!