Off-Season Training Plan:
1. For everyone: At least 2-3 weeks of serious downtime. That means no running or nearly no running. 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. Swim, bike or do something else instead. If you think you should be running, don't!
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 rolling exercises two to three times per week. Even during your off time! It will make a difference in cross country.
3. For those who are really motivated to improve and want to help get your running season off to a good start: Try to get in 2-3 days per week of core strengthening exercises.
A. Something for your stomach (crunches, bicycling on back with legs, leg lifts, front plank),
Something for your back ("Superman," bent knee back plank, "bridging")
and side plank on each side
B. Go through our dynamic routine (after a 5 minute jogging warm up)--especially "A" steps, butt kicks, running high knees, bounds, lunges. Also add high knee skips and fast skips. Really exaggerate the movements! Good form--especially knee lift--is critical to get the benefit.
4. Once your time off is over (see #1 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 and are what we'll be racing on.
A. A long run. (40-75 minutes. Try to build to a time ~5-10 minutes longer than your 'normal' long run in track.)
B. A 25-35 minute run with 4-10 x 20 second strides faster than mile pace (Good form is critical!!) Build to 6-8 x 40 seconds by the start of XC. Recover to nearly normal between these. Do your strides up a steep hill much of the time!
C. A 30-45 minute run with 10-20 minutes of moderate paced running. Break the moderate paced running into 5-7 minute segments. Make the segments longer as the season progresses. (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 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!