Pre-Season Training

Parents:  Please help your runner implement a pre-season training program.  If you have any questions about specifics, please ask your coach!  Don't push your runner:  If they're not excited to keep running I'd rather have them off until we start the season formally.  Be creative to make this fun but it can be great family time.  

Ideas to make running fun:
1.  Bike with your kids if they're faster than you.
2.  Pick interesting and new places to run.  Vacations provide great opportunities.
3.  Meet with other teammates who live close to you.   Running together is always more fun.
4.  Run to someplace fun--finishing with a slurpee or frozen yogurt is great! (Or hot chocolate in the winter.)
5.  Try geocaching!  https://www.geocaching.com/play
6.  Kick around a soccer ball instead of doing a formal run.

Pre-season plan:
1.  For everyone:  At least 2 weeks of serious downtime.  That means no "training".  Don't keep track of mileage or plan any specific program.  If you find that running relaxes you and you want to run, feel free to go out a couple of days per week and run for 20-30 minutes.  If you think you should be running, don't!   Swim, bike, hike or do something else instead.  Get a couple of friends together for a pickup basketball or soccer game.  

Continue to get in 2 or more days per week of core strengthening exercises. These should continue through the pre-season program.
               Something for your stomach (crunches, bicycling on back with legs, leg lifts, front plank), 
               Something for your back ("Superman," bent knee back plank, "bridging") 
               Side plank on each side
               Pushups, Burpees, Jumping jacks or even hopscotch will strengthen you in running specific ways.

2.  For anyone who had any injury--for example a nagging knee, heel or muscle pain lasting more than a few days in the last month:   continue all of the strengthening, stretching and foam rolling exercises two to three times per week.  Even during your off time!  It will make a difference.  You may want to extend your time off to 3 weeks.
          
3.   Once your time off is over (see #1 and #2 above) it's good to start running again.  In order of importance here are the elements of a good pre-season program.  Plan your runs on soft surfaces and at least half over rolling hills if you can.  Hills will help build strength and soft surfaces protect your joints.  For our 1st and 2nd year runners three days per week is plenty!

                          A.  A long run. (35-70 minutes.  Try to build to a time ~5-10 minutes longer than your 'normal' long run from last season.)
                          B.  A 25-35 minute run with 4-10 x 15-20 second strides faster than mile pace (Good form is critical!!)  Build to 6-8 x 40 seconds by the start of the season.  Recover to nearly normal between these.  Do your strides up a hill some of the time!
                          C.  A 30-45 minute run with 10-20 minutes of moderate paced running.  Break the moderate paced running into 3-7 minute segments.  Make the segments longer as you get closer the start of the season.  (ie start with 3 x 4 minutes, move to 3 x 5 minutes then 2 x 7 minutes, 2 x 8 minutes, 2 x 9 minutes)  Recovery should be ~1/3 of the moderate segment time.
                          D.  An easy run of 20-35 minutes OR cross training.  (Biking takes ~2x the time to get the same benefit.)


Example for an intermediate/advanced runner:  
Sunday:  Run 50 minutes

Monday:  Run 35 minutes with 8 x 20 second strides faster than mile pace with >1 minute recovery

Wednesday:  Run 40 minutes with 6 minutes moderate, 2 easy, 5 minutes moderate, 2 easy, 4 minutes moderate--all on moderate rolling hills.

Thursday:  Easy run of 35-40 minutes with 6 x 10 second hard uphill strides near the beginning.

Saturday:  Swim, bike, hike--anything fun and active!