XC training tips
09/02/2020 8:47:35 PM
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So I want to start a thread where we talk about training. I am not sure the best way to do this honestly. But I feel like there is valuable information to share for kids, parents, and coaches to read. This is just to get things started. I hope others will join in. I hope I will get to add in more as the discussion gets going. If not then oh well. This is just for XC, track is different and hopefully we can do this again in the January. So I guess, here we go. 1. I believe in mileage. The more you run, the better you get at running. But I believe in recovery as well. I would love it if all of my kids could run 80 miles a week and recover from it properly. That is not the case. School and social media don't allow it. So it's always my goal to get the most mileage out of kids without overdoing it to the point that they can't recover. For some of my boys in the past that has meant going as high as 90 miles a week in the summer. But most don't spend more than a week or two over 70. For girls I have less experience, but I have girls who have gone as high as 65. During the season my varsity boys spend most of the year in the low to mid 50's. Girls in the mid to high 40's and possibly getting into the 50's. We don't really taper as we reach state in terms of mileage. It decreases slightly, but not by much. I have also switched to giving them minutes rather than mileage lately and love the way it's working out. It was weird at first, but telling them to run 50 minutes instead of 7 miles is just easier overall. 2. We do more tempo/threshold running than anything else other than easy running. And it's not even close. I've found that both Daniels and Tinman have more or less the same calculation for threshold running so I use those to calculate workout paces. I adjust paces for hills and heat if necessary, which it usually is this time of year. I don't mind breaking up threshold running either. If it's too hot for a 4 mile tempo, then we can adjust to 4xmile or 2x2mile or something. I try to keep the rest to 5-1, but sometimes the water breaks just take too long in the heat. Morning workouts help, but I don't like doing too much running around the track during XC season. 3. Intervals. I like a few different workouts. I'm a fan of Tinman's CV intervals where the kids run 800-1000m with 1:30-2:00 rest. It's a good strength workout without destroying the legs. I also like 400's occasionally. We tend to do them on a 2:30 cycle for the varsity and do a lot of them, up to 24. It's not really a speed workout, nor does it really fit into any sort of physiological category that I know of. But it's a fantastic workout that trains them mentally. Credit to Coach Christie who I believe got it from Coach Wood for that one. But my favorite is uphill 800m repeats. We always do it three times a year. No more and no less. Usually do it every other week starting 7 or so weeks out from state with the last time being about 10 days out from state give or take. Ok. That's a start. Please chime in others with comments, questions, and your training tips!
So I want to start a thread where we talk about training. I am not sure the best way to do this honestly. But I feel like there is valuable information to share for kids, parents, and coaches to read. This is just to get things started. I hope others will join in. I hope I will get to add in more as the discussion gets going. If not then oh well. This is just for XC, track is different and hopefully we can do this again in the January. So I guess, here we go.

1. I believe in mileage. The more you run, the better you get at running. But I believe in recovery as well. I would love it if all of my kids could run 80 miles a week and recover from it properly. That is not the case. School and social media don't allow it. So it's always my goal to get the most mileage out of kids without overdoing it to the point that they can't recover. For some of my boys in the past that has meant going as high as 90 miles a week in the summer. But most don't spend more than a week or two over 70. For girls I have less experience, but I have girls who have gone as high as 65. During the season my varsity boys spend most of the year in the low to mid 50's. Girls in the mid to high 40's and possibly getting into the 50's. We don't really taper as we reach state in terms of mileage. It decreases slightly, but not by much. I have also switched to giving them minutes rather than mileage lately and love the way it's working out. It was weird at first, but telling them to run 50 minutes instead of 7 miles is just easier overall.

2. We do more tempo/threshold running than anything else other than easy running. And it's not even close. I've found that both Daniels and Tinman have more or less the same calculation for threshold running so I use those to calculate workout paces. I adjust paces for hills and heat if necessary, which it usually is this time of year. I don't mind breaking up threshold running either. If it's too hot for a 4 mile tempo, then we can adjust to 4xmile or 2x2mile or something. I try to keep the rest to 5-1, but sometimes the water breaks just take too long in the heat. Morning workouts help, but I don't like doing too much running around the track during XC season.

3. Intervals. I like a few different workouts. I'm a fan of Tinman's CV intervals where the kids run 800-1000m with 1:30-2:00 rest. It's a good strength workout without destroying the legs. I also like 400's occasionally. We tend to do them on a 2:30 cycle for the varsity and do a lot of them, up to 24. It's not really a speed workout, nor does it really fit into any sort of physiological category that I know of. But it's a fantastic workout that trains them mentally. Credit to Coach Christie who I believe got it from Coach Wood for that one. But my favorite is uphill 800m repeats. We always do it three times a year. No more and no less. Usually do it every other week starting 7 or so weeks out from state with the last time being about 10 days out from state give or take.

Ok. That's a start. Please chime in others with comments, questions, and your training tips!
09/03/2020 8:12:37 AM
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@spxcoachrm On your hill repeats, what kind of rest do you give them? Also, what kind of adjustments do you make in terms of times when the temperatures are high for a threshold effort? I am always torn with the time/mileage assignments. I think older and more experienced runners do well when assigned time because they know more of what their body can handle and what I expect in terms of pace. My younger runners don't do as well with just being assigned time, so I mix it up with them and do mileage some days and time on others with the goal of helping them learn how much mileage I would expect during certain time assignments. Alot of these run are AYF "as you feel" so there is some flexibility if someone had an especially rough day or maybe their hydration isn't where it should be.
@spxcoachrm On your hill repeats, what kind of rest do you give them? Also, what kind of adjustments do you make in terms of times when the temperatures are high for a threshold effort?

I am always torn with the time/mileage assignments. I think older and more experienced runners do well when assigned time because they know more of what their body can handle and what I expect in terms of pace. My younger runners don't do as well with just being assigned time, so I mix it up with them and do mileage some days and time on others with the goal of helping them learn how much mileage I would expect during certain time assignments. Alot of these run are AYF "as you feel" so there is some flexibility if someone had an especially rough day or maybe their hydration isn't where it should be.
09/03/2020 8:44:29 AM
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@wfoster For the 800m hill repeats the recovery is just a slow jog back down to the bottom of the hill. Some days they milk it more than others that's for sure. But for a boy that can run 7:00 pace on easy runs the cycle is usually around 7:30 give or take. Adjusting for temperatures is hit or miss. There are times when I am off and they bomb the workout. Doing a tempo run in 90 degree heat sometimes feels like it borders on pointless, right? Generally speaking the heat adjustments are 2-4 seconds per 5 degrees above 60 degrees. So a kid who is supposed to run at 6:00 pace would run at about 6:12 pace if it was 80 degrees out. It's definitely not perfect and sometimes they need more or less slack than that so it's a guessing game that I sometimes get right and sometimes get wrong. What do you normally ask for in terms of pace on AYF days? I used to be super strict with my varsity boys that I wanted them running at 7:00 pace or faster as much as possible on easy days. I have since relaxed on that (it helps that I've gotten older and slower haha). Last year we kind of had two different groups on easy days. One group ran anywhere from 6:30-7:15 pace on easy days and just preferred to run faster. The other group almost always ran over 8:00 pace on easy days. None of them ran poorly at state, but the group that ran over 8:00 pace killed it at state. Go figure.
@wfoster

For the 800m hill repeats the recovery is just a slow jog back down to the bottom of the hill. Some days they milk it more than others that's for sure. But for a boy that can run 7:00 pace on easy runs the cycle is usually around 7:30 give or take.

Adjusting for temperatures is hit or miss. There are times when I am off and they bomb the workout. Doing a tempo run in 90 degree heat sometimes feels like it borders on pointless, right? Generally speaking the heat adjustments are 2-4 seconds per 5 degrees above 60 degrees. So a kid who is supposed to run at 6:00 pace would run at about 6:12 pace if it was 80 degrees out. It's definitely not perfect and sometimes they need more or less slack than that so it's a guessing game that I sometimes get right and sometimes get wrong.

What do you normally ask for in terms of pace on AYF days? I used to be super strict with my varsity boys that I wanted them running at 7:00 pace or faster as much as possible on easy days. I have since relaxed on that (it helps that I've gotten older and slower haha). Last year we kind of had two different groups on easy days. One group ran anywhere from 6:30-7:15 pace on easy days and just preferred to run faster. The other group almost always ran over 8:00 pace on easy days. None of them ran poorly at state, but the group that ran over 8:00 pace killed it at state. Go figure.
09/03/2020 10:04:53 AM
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@spxcoachrm Nice post, Ryan. 1. I agree with the mileage. I would like to get my kids up to 60-65 a week by their junior year but I still have kids that fight it -- especially my girls. It would be one thing if the mileage was killing them but it's mostly because they know someone faster than them on another team who is only running 35 a week. [i]I wish I was that effective of a coach to have my kids only run 5 miles a day and be that good, but alas[/i]. I tell them that they have to make up for my shortcomings as a coach with their legs. 2. I think Daniel's Tempo pace is 88% of VO2max and Tinman's is 90%, so either would be good. When I first started coaching I relied on Daniel's recommended 20-minute tempo a lot but have gotten away from it lately. I like to make Wednesdays our Medium-Long Run days, similar to what was outlined in [i]Running With the Buffaloes[/i]. I don't have a good place to do it around here, but when I was at Parkview, our top guys would do 2 loops around the mountain (10 miles) at around a 6-minute pace. So it was a nice combination of tempo and strength. Looking back, that was probably the most effective workout we did. Without having a place like Stone Mountain around, I now have my varsity runner run 75 minutes at Lydiard's "Steady State" pace (80% VO2max). 3. I like Tinman's CV Intervals as well, although I did not discover them until a year or two ago. I usually do them by time instead of distance--especially for my less experienced runners. So 4 x 5 minutes with 1-2 minute recovery. This also helps when you are dealing with a bunch of runners so they are starting and finishing at the same time. I know some coaches think we (Lambert) race too much but we don't do "Interval" paced stuff during the week if we have a race scheduled. Instead, the race counts as our VO2Max workout for the week. 4. On recovery days I used to cap the runs at 45 minutes, per Daniel's idea that once you go over 45 minutes during a single run it stops being an easy run. Now I have converted over to Tinman's way of thinking and try to get my kids to get at least an hour each day. For that reason, I don't stress out about how fast they are doing their recovery runs, although I do have to remind some of them that there is such thing as running too slow. 5. Due to COVID and crazy schedules, we aren't doing any two-a-days this year. So I am still trying to figure out if and when kids need an off day. Last year some of my top runners took one once a week but I was going to try to push it to one every two weeks this year. Ryan, do y'all do a long run every week or every other week?
@spxcoachrm

Nice post, Ryan.

1. I agree with the mileage. I would like to get my kids up to 60-65 a week by their junior year but I still have kids that fight it -- especially my girls. It would be one thing if the mileage was killing them but it's mostly because they know someone faster than them on another team who is only running 35 a week. I wish I was that effective of a coach to have my kids only run 5 miles a day and be that good, but alas. I tell them that they have to make up for my shortcomings as a coach with their legs.

2. I think Daniel's Tempo pace is 88% of VO2max and Tinman's is 90%, so either would be good. When I first started coaching I relied on Daniel's recommended 20-minute tempo a lot but have gotten away from it lately. I like to make Wednesdays our Medium-Long Run days, similar to what was outlined in Running With the Buffaloes. I don't have a good place to do it around here, but when I was at Parkview, our top guys would do 2 loops around the mountain (10 miles) at around a 6-minute pace. So it was a nice combination of tempo and strength. Looking back, that was probably the most effective workout we did. Without having a place like Stone Mountain around, I now have my varsity runner run 75 minutes at Lydiard's "Steady State" pace (80% VO2max).

3. I like Tinman's CV Intervals as well, although I did not discover them until a year or two ago. I usually do them by time instead of distance--especially for my less experienced runners. So 4 x 5 minutes with 1-2 minute recovery. This also helps when you are dealing with a bunch of runners so they are starting and finishing at the same time. I know some coaches think we (Lambert) race too much but we don't do "Interval" paced stuff during the week if we have a race scheduled. Instead, the race counts as our VO2Max workout for the week.

4. On recovery days I used to cap the runs at 45 minutes, per Daniel's idea that once you go over 45 minutes during a single run it stops being an easy run. Now I have converted over to Tinman's way of thinking and try to get my kids to get at least an hour each day. For that reason, I don't stress out about how fast they are doing their recovery runs, although I do have to remind some of them that there is such thing as running too slow.

5. Due to COVID and crazy schedules, we aren't doing any two-a-days this year. So I am still trying to figure out if and when kids need an off day. Last year some of my top runners took one once a week but I was going to try to push it to one every two weeks this year.

Ryan, do y'all do a long run every week or every other week?
09/03/2020 10:11:08 AM
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@spxcoachrm Yes, Tempo 400s were a Coach Wood workout (and perhaps he got them from someone else). He always called them Tempo 400s, with the understanding that they are not Tempo pace, but more that the goal is to hit a consistent pace/tempo over and over again. It's roughly 3200 pace but I usually give them a couple of seconds on either side. Besides the mental side, I feel like it is a great way to work on form/efficiency, as the pace isn't that difficult for just a 400, but of course the number you do makes it a mentally and physically taxing workout. I like Daniels for determining workout paces, but found through trial and error that following a lot of suggestions from Daniels too closely did not work well with my runners. Seemed to be too rigid, and they needed more flexibility. Speaking of that, on mileage days I do not dictate how fast they run (unless they are absolutely dogging it). I tell them to listen to their bodies (or pay attention to sensory data, a la Westmore in Running With the Buffaloes). Some guys do better with faster easy days and some better with slower. I tell them it's mostly about effort, and that they should make sure they are ready to go for hard workout days.
@spxcoachrm

Yes, Tempo 400s were a Coach Wood workout (and perhaps he got them from someone else). He always called them Tempo 400s, with the understanding that they are not Tempo pace, but more that the goal is to hit a consistent pace/tempo over and over again. It's roughly 3200 pace but I usually give them a couple of seconds on either side. Besides the mental side, I feel like it is a great way to work on form/efficiency, as the pace isn't that difficult for just a 400, but of course the number you do makes it a mentally and physically taxing workout.

I like Daniels for determining workout paces, but found through trial and error that following a lot of suggestions from Daniels too closely did not work well with my runners. Seemed to be too rigid, and they needed more flexibility.

Speaking of that, on mileage days I do not dictate how fast they run (unless they are absolutely dogging it). I tell them to listen to their bodies (or pay attention to sensory data, a la Westmore in Running With the Buffaloes). Some guys do better with faster easy days and some better with slower. I tell them it's mostly about effort, and that they should make sure they are ready to go for hard workout days.
09/03/2020 10:32:08 AM
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@coachtigue Yep. We go long every single week of the year. No race means long run on Saturday. Race week could mean a long run on Sunday. But there are times when we race on Saturday and I want them to have Sunday off. So on those days I have them do a long cool down so their total minutes on the day between the warm up, race, and cool down total a long run. In the summer the long run builds to 90-100 minutes. During the season I keep it around 80 minutes for boys and 70 minutes for girls during the first half, and then 70/60 during the second half. 2 loops around the mountain at 6:00 pace is tough! That's a good workout though for varsity level boys. I haven't gone over 4 miles for a long time in tempo, but Brendan and Austin did lots of 6 mile tempos in 5:30-5:45 pace back in the day. We do 1000m for the varsity for CV's, but we do it over hills. I try to rush the rest since the pace isn't all that hard. I like it because it never destroys them physically but I feel like still makes them stronger. I also like to do a few 200's after that workout since they're fresher than they are after other workouts. Good point about mentioning that it is possible to run too slow. 10:00 pace for varsity boys probably qualifies here, but 8:00 pace probably doesn't. With Covid they've had to do their double days on their own. But it works out ok since we're on a hybrid schedule right now. @coachac totally agree about making sure they are ready for workout days. I tell them if they can't hit the workout paces then I'll make them run slower on easy days, otherwise I just kind of let them go. But I also mention that if they're not progressing in workouts over the course of the season, it could be because they're not running fast enough on easy days and/or not running enough miles. So hard to explain to a high school how to balance everything necessary...
@coachtigue

Yep. We go long every single week of the year. No race means long run on Saturday. Race week could mean a long run on Sunday. But there are times when we race on Saturday and I want them to have Sunday off. So on those days I have them do a long cool down so their total minutes on the day between the warm up, race, and cool down total a long run. In the summer the long run builds to 90-100 minutes. During the season I keep it around 80 minutes for boys and 70 minutes for girls during the first half, and then 70/60 during the second half.

2 loops around the mountain at 6:00 pace is tough! That's a good workout though for varsity level boys. I haven't gone over 4 miles for a long time in tempo, but Brendan and Austin did lots of 6 mile tempos in 5:30-5:45 pace back in the day.

We do 1000m for the varsity for CV's, but we do it over hills. I try to rush the rest since the pace isn't all that hard. I like it because it never destroys them physically but I feel like still makes them stronger. I also like to do a few 200's after that workout since they're fresher than they are after other workouts.

Good point about mentioning that it is possible to run too slow. 10:00 pace for varsity boys probably qualifies here, but 8:00 pace probably doesn't.

With Covid they've had to do their double days on their own. But it works out ok since we're on a hybrid schedule right now.

@coachac

totally agree about making sure they are ready for workout days. I tell them if they can't hit the workout paces then I'll make them run slower on easy days, otherwise I just kind of let them go. But I also mention that if they're not progressing in workouts over the course of the season, it could be because they're not running fast enough on easy days and/or not running enough miles. So hard to explain to a high school how to balance everything necessary...
09/03/2020 10:34:20 AM
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@coachtigue What do you do for your tempo/threshold days? Straight tempo? broken up ever? On a flat course? hills? track? grass? concrete?
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What do you do for your tempo/threshold days? Straight tempo? broken up ever? On a flat course? hills? track? grass? concrete?
09/03/2020 11:44:21 AM
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@spxcoachrm For AYF it highly depends. Our Mondays are usually AYF and on a normal week we would have run long on Saturday and taken it easy on Sunday so most of them are feeling pretty good on that day. For my V boys, I have a big group that are in 17:30-18:30 shape and usually they would run around 7:50-8:10 on AYF days, depending on the heat etc. My top boy usually runs under 7:00 for his, but he is closer to 16:30 shape and likes to push. A lot of time they will run a workout the next day, so most keep it pretty relaxed. On days meant for recovery I usually set what I call a "floor" so the fastest I want them to run. The past year or two especially, we have focused a lot on making our easy days easy so we don't sacrifice our workouts. I like Tinman pace chart more than Daniels because of the flexibility it offers. All the different paces he provides are probably a little bit of overkill, but it does remind me that we are dealing with a spectrum in terms of energy systems. @coachac @spxcoachrm @coachtigue What things, if any, do you all do differently with your boys and girls teams? Is it just a case of doing a little less and a little less fast, or are there things you emphasize more with your girls teams than with your boys? I know there are some coaches who have lifting routines that their girls teams, but I am more interesting in things I can/need to do at practice in regards to running.
@spxcoachrm

For AYF it highly depends. Our Mondays are usually AYF and on a normal week we would have run long on Saturday and taken it easy on Sunday so most of them are feeling pretty good on that day. For my V boys, I have a big group that are in 17:30-18:30 shape and usually they would run around 7:50-8:10 on AYF days, depending on the heat etc. My top boy usually runs under 7:00 for his, but he is closer to 16:30 shape and likes to push. A lot of time they will run a workout the next day, so most keep it pretty relaxed.

On days meant for recovery I usually set what I call a "floor" so the fastest I want them to run. The past year or two especially, we have focused a lot on making our easy days easy so we don't sacrifice our workouts.

I like Tinman pace chart more than Daniels because of the flexibility it offers. All the different paces he provides are probably a little bit of overkill, but it does remind me that we are dealing with a spectrum in terms of energy systems.

@coachac @spxcoachrm @coachtigue What things, if any, do you all do differently with your boys and girls teams? Is it just a case of doing a little less and a little less fast, or are there things you emphasize more with your girls teams than with your boys? I know there are some coaches who have lifting routines that their girls teams, but I am more interesting in things I can/need to do at practice in regards to running.
09/03/2020 1:00:57 PM
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Regarding easy day pace. One thing we have done on days when we feel like the top guys might be overrunning easy days and / or need extra rest is to assign someone in the group who we know won't overrun pace as the group leader for the day. He gets to determine the route and no one is supposed to pass him. Usually that guy is not the person leading runs, so it is nice chance to change up the dynamics. The guy who's tendency to sit at the back gets the challenge to be the tip of the spear. The one-steppers have to learn to chill when appropriate. Regarding girl's mileage. I'm in awe of all the coaches who can get their girl's teams up to 50 miles per week and keep them healthy. We have done everything in our power to promote wellness. Constant harping on food choices and sleep. We bus or make parents drive to soft surface locations twice a week during the school year and most every long run has a softer surface option. We even had our girls doing an extra swim session once per week to try to build aerobic capacity without running pounding. We have done lots of body weight strength and mobility drills. Tried pretty much everything except heavy weigh squats (because our weight room is the size of a closet and we don't get time in there). In spite of everything, if we attempt to do more than about 30-35 miles / week (giving each girl full day off every week), our girls end up with stress injuries and in boots. Even on a steady diet of 30 miles per week, we still have lots of complaints about shins and feel like we are holding everything together with duct tape. I think maybe our biggest issue is that our team tends to be mostly "runner" girls versus more physically strong athletic girls who come to running from other sports like LAX or soccer. However, that isn't always the case. Liz Galarza played soccer and basketball as a youth and she got a stress fracture her junior year during the summer running less than 40 mpw. She was also an outlier who could perform at a high level off the moderate, some might argue inadequate, mileage. One advantage to lower mileage and all the other precautions we take is that we have tended to be able to maintain pretty competitive girl's teams annually by the time the state meet rolls around in November. Under-trained beats broken 100% of the time. The down side is that I know our girl's aren't aerobically strong enough and in some cases mentally tough enough to take the leap from pretty solid to state championship contender off the mileage we do. If y'all have any secrets on how to keep "runner" girls out of boots, I'm all ears. Just read the book Amazing Racers about what FM does to have built such a dominant program. Man those girls are tough! They do some single workouts that would hospitalize every girls on our team. I'd recommend the read. Coach Griffith West Forsyth XC
Regarding easy day pace. One thing we have done on days when we feel like the top guys might be overrunning easy days and / or need extra rest is to assign someone in the group who we know won't overrun pace as the group leader for the day. He gets to determine the route and no one is supposed to pass him. Usually that guy is not the person leading runs, so it is nice chance to change up the dynamics. The guy who's tendency to sit at the back gets the challenge to be the tip of the spear. The one-steppers have to learn to chill when appropriate.

Regarding girl's mileage. I'm in awe of all the coaches who can get their girl's teams up to 50 miles per week and keep them healthy. We have done everything in our power to promote wellness. Constant harping on food choices and sleep. We bus or make parents drive to soft surface locations twice a week during the school year and most every long run has a softer surface option. We even had our girls doing an extra swim session once per week to try to build aerobic capacity without running pounding. We have done lots of body weight strength and mobility drills. Tried pretty much everything except heavy weigh squats (because our weight room is the size of a closet and we don't get time in there).

In spite of everything, if we attempt to do more than about 30-35 miles / week (giving each girl full day off every week), our girls end up with stress injuries and in boots. Even on a steady diet of 30 miles per week, we still have lots of complaints about shins and feel like we are holding everything together with duct tape. I think maybe our biggest issue is that our team tends to be mostly "runner" girls versus more physically strong athletic girls who come to running from other sports like LAX or soccer. However, that isn't always the case. Liz Galarza played soccer and basketball as a youth and she got a stress fracture her junior year during the summer running less than 40 mpw. She was also an outlier who could perform at a high level off the moderate, some might argue inadequate, mileage.

One advantage to lower mileage and all the other precautions we take is that we have tended to be able to maintain pretty competitive girl's teams annually by the time the state meet rolls around in November. Under-trained beats broken 100% of the time. The down side is that I know our girl's aren't aerobically strong enough and in some cases mentally tough enough to take the leap from pretty solid to state championship contender off the mileage we do. If y'all have any secrets on how to keep "runner" girls out of boots, I'm all ears.

Just read the book Amazing Racers about what FM does to have built such a dominant program. Man those girls are tough! They do some single workouts that would hospitalize every girls on our team. I'd recommend the read.

Coach Griffith
West Forsyth XC
09/03/2020 2:29:56 PM
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@wfoster @sgriff2861 I'll put a caveat here that for most of my coaching career I only coached the girls in the winter and spring. It wasn't until 2017 that I started coaching some varsity girls in the summer and fall. And wasn't until 2019 that I wrote the training for the whole girls team. But my approach hasn't really changed in terms of how to coach girls. An 18:30 girl who has been running with me for 3 years will get the same minutes and workout paces as an 18:30 boy who has been running with me for 3 years. The mileage might differ slightly with different warm up and easy day paces, but the assigned minutes will be the same. Now if the girl is a first year runner and the boy is a 4th year runner, they'll get the same workout paces, but not the same weekly minutes, the 1st year runner will get fewer. We haven't been immune from injuries, but for the most part it seems like it's when we let them push too hard that they get hurt. Not going to give any examples, but I've definitely fallen victim to the trap of runners (boys and girls) who look amazing and want to do more or run faster so I let them only to get injured not too long after. One thing that I've changed about my coaching all together is that the instant something hurts I tell them to stop. I used to try to see if they could push through. But we've just gotten so much better with cross training over the years that I don't stress out about it anymore. I used to freak out when a runner told me they had to miss a workout, or even worse two weeks! Not anymore. And last year is a perfect example. Of the 14 runners that ran at state, we had 5 of them (boys and girls) that missed 2+ weeks during the season or 4+ weeks in the summer due to injury. All of them ran great at state because we got a handle on the injury immediately and knocked it out while cross training properly. It's not fun while it's happening and it definitely takes repeated convincing that they have time to come back from the injury, but it seems to be the way to go. Haha. So I realize perhaps I'm not making the best case for myself here. But I guess I think it's worth dealing with a week or two off to take care of something every now and then as long as it allows us to do more mileage over the course of four years? In the grand scheme of things, 1-2 weeks of cross training won't set you back, and that's the most common thing we deal with. Also, it's not common for our girls to go above 50 or for our boys to go above 65 if that's what you're wondering. But it does happen, and usually only in the summer.
@wfoster @sgriff2861

I'll put a caveat here that for most of my coaching career I only coached the girls in the winter and spring. It wasn't until 2017 that I started coaching some varsity girls in the summer and fall. And wasn't until 2019 that I wrote the training for the whole girls team. But my approach hasn't really changed in terms of how to coach girls. An 18:30 girl who has been running with me for 3 years will get the same minutes and workout paces as an 18:30 boy who has been running with me for 3 years. The mileage might differ slightly with different warm up and easy day paces, but the assigned minutes will be the same. Now if the girl is a first year runner and the boy is a 4th year runner, they'll get the same workout paces, but not the same weekly minutes, the 1st year runner will get fewer.

We haven't been immune from injuries, but for the most part it seems like it's when we let them push too hard that they get hurt. Not going to give any examples, but I've definitely fallen victim to the trap of runners (boys and girls) who look amazing and want to do more or run faster so I let them only to get injured not too long after. One thing that I've changed about my coaching all together is that the instant something hurts I tell them to stop. I used to try to see if they could push through. But we've just gotten so much better with cross training over the years that I don't stress out about it anymore. I used to freak out when a runner told me they had to miss a workout, or even worse two weeks! Not anymore. And last year is a perfect example. Of the 14 runners that ran at state, we had 5 of them (boys and girls) that missed 2+ weeks during the season or 4+ weeks in the summer due to injury. All of them ran great at state because we got a handle on the injury immediately and knocked it out while cross training properly. It's not fun while it's happening and it definitely takes repeated convincing that they have time to come back from the injury, but it seems to be the way to go.

Haha. So I realize perhaps I'm not making the best case for myself here. But I guess I think it's worth dealing with a week or two off to take care of something every now and then as long as it allows us to do more mileage over the course of four years? In the grand scheme of things, 1-2 weeks of cross training won't set you back, and that's the most common thing we deal with. Also, it's not common for our girls to go above 50 or for our boys to go above 65 if that's what you're wondering. But it does happen, and usually only in the summer.
09/04/2020 5:28:41 AM
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Sorry. I didn't mean to monopolize this discussion. I genuinely want to hear from others. I love talking about training and hearing about what other coaches do with their teams. So let's keep it going. What are ways that coaches use fartleks? What kind of fartleks are your favorites and why? And when do you use them during the summer and/or season?
Sorry. I didn't mean to monopolize this discussion. I genuinely want to hear from others. I love talking about training and hearing about what other coaches do with their teams. So let's keep it going. What are ways that coaches use fartleks? What kind of fartleks are your favorites and why? And when do you use them during the summer and/or season?
09/04/2020 9:42:22 AM
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[quote=spxcoachrm]@wfoster @sgriff2861 I'll put a caveat here that for most of my coaching career I only coached the girls in the winter and spring. It wasn't until 2017 that I started coaching some varsity girls in the summer and fall. And wasn't until 2019 that I wrote the training for the whole girls team. But my approach hasn't really changed in terms of how to coach girls. An 18:30 girl who has been running with me for 3 years will get the same minutes and workout paces as an 18:30 boy who has been running with me for 3 years. The mileage might differ slightly with different warm up and easy day paces, but the assigned minutes will be the same. Now if the girl is a first year runner and the boy is a 4th year runner, they'll get the same workout paces, but not the same weekly minutes, the 1st year runner will get fewer. [/quote] Ryan, I'm interested in this. My experience has been as follows - if we have an 18:30 boy and an 18:30 girl, they are still very, very different runners. If we assign them the same paces in workouts it has almost always been the case that the girl is the one that is most capable of handling that pace in the workout at a proper effort. I've seen this time and again when the two athletes have the same 5k PR or if it's close. Even still, the same boy will usually have a faster PR by the end of the season, even if they can't hang with the girl at the end of the workout.
spxcoachrm wrote:
@wfoster @sgriff2861

I'll put a caveat here that for most of my coaching career I only coached the girls in the winter and spring. It wasn't until 2017 that I started coaching some varsity girls in the summer and fall. And wasn't until 2019 that I wrote the training for the whole girls team. But my approach hasn't really changed in terms of how to coach girls. An 18:30 girl who has been running with me for 3 years will get the same minutes and workout paces as an 18:30 boy who has been running with me for 3 years. The mileage might differ slightly with different warm up and easy day paces, but the assigned minutes will be the same. Now if the girl is a first year runner and the boy is a 4th year runner, they'll get the same workout paces, but not the same weekly minutes, the 1st year runner will get fewer.


Ryan, I'm interested in this. My experience has been as follows - if we have an 18:30 boy and an 18:30 girl, they are still very, very different runners. If we assign them the same paces in workouts it has almost always been the case that the girl is the one that is most capable of handling that pace in the workout at a proper effort. I've seen this time and again when the two athletes have the same 5k PR or if it's close. Even still, the same boy will usually have a faster PR by the end of the season, even if they can't hang with the girl at the end of the workout.
09/04/2020 11:44:13 AM
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@spxcoachrm I tend to use Fartleks earlier in the season or summer when I don't have as good of an idea of the fitness of an athlete. Earlier summer that may look like reps of 2 minutes hard and 3 minutes easy, and later 2 minutes hard and 2 minutes easy. I also use them on days when circumstances don't allow us to have more structured workout, lets say I have to move the location of the workout last minute or something like that.
@spxcoachrm

I tend to use Fartleks earlier in the season or summer when I don't have as good of an idea of the fitness of an athlete. Earlier summer that may look like reps of 2 minutes hard and 3 minutes easy, and later 2 minutes hard and 2 minutes easy. I also use them on days when circumstances don't allow us to have more structured workout, lets say I have to move the location of the workout last minute or something like that.
09/04/2020 11:50:15 AM
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@lisle33 Interesting observation. We had senior girls who are running 20:30 right now absolutely wear out 19:00 freshmen boys in a strength oriented workout Monday. They are running similar mileage but obviously the senior girls have much more developed cardio systems. Even off our sadly low mileage, the years of consistent running add up. This particular group of older girls are also mechanically stronger than this particular group of freshmen boys who's coordination is in that awkward stage where they are trying to figure out their body in the middle of growth spurts.
@lisle33

Interesting observation. We had senior girls who are running 20:30 right now absolutely wear out 19:00 freshmen boys in a strength oriented workout Monday. They are running similar mileage but obviously the senior girls have much more developed cardio systems. Even off our sadly low mileage, the years of consistent running add up. This particular group of older girls are also mechanically stronger than this particular group of freshmen boys who's coordination is in that awkward stage where they are trying to figure out their body in the middle of growth spurts.
09/04/2020 12:04:33 PM
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@spxcoachrm I like doing fartleks in the summer and as a transition from summer into harder workouts in the fall (I typically only coach the girls - occasionally help with JV boys). I think they're also a good tool for kids who can't sustain pace for an entire tempo run. 5-4-3-2-1 is a favorite before they're really in shape. I also like 3on/3off (or 4 on/4 off) for 3-4 miles until they get strong enough to handle a steady-state tempo. With girls vs boys, I've found (in limited experience, mind you) that the boys I've worked with tend to "outrace" their workouts more than girls. But, I think that's a function of working with varsity girls & JV boys. So, the JV boys are likely not fully maximizing their training like a varsity girl would likely be. I've also found that the training volume a girl can handle varies a lot, compared to boys of the same caliber. Seems like outside factors affect girls more frequently than boys, in my experience.
@spxcoachrm I like doing fartleks in the summer and as a transition from summer into harder workouts in the fall (I typically only coach the girls - occasionally help with JV boys). I think they're also a good tool for kids who can't sustain pace for an entire tempo run. 5-4-3-2-1 is a favorite before they're really in shape. I also like 3on/3off (or 4 on/4 off) for 3-4 miles until they get strong enough to handle a steady-state tempo.

With girls vs boys, I've found (in limited experience, mind you) that the boys I've worked with tend to "outrace" their workouts more than girls. But, I think that's a function of working with varsity girls & JV boys. So, the JV boys are likely not fully maximizing their training like a varsity girl would likely be. I've also found that the training volume a girl can handle varies a lot, compared to boys of the same caliber. Seems like outside factors affect girls more frequently than boys, in my experience.
09/04/2020 12:37:20 PM
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@lisle33 What I've noticed is that if a girl and a boy have the same experience, PR, health, and work ethic at the beginning of a season, they often have similar progressions throughout the season for sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Not so much for freshmen (and other first year runners) who you just never know what will happen. I think what you're noticing is that rarely are those four things created equal at the beginning of the season for any two runners with the same PR. And so I suspect that the differences that you're noticing are a result of those differences more so than anything else. For example, with an 18:30 girl, in most cases she's probably a very experienced runner and thus has less room for improvement than the 18:30 boy. @wfoster I do that too. This summer I phrased it to them as just "getting a taste" of workout paces. We also do progression runs in the summer for similar reasons as the goal of the last mile is to get a taste of threshold pace/effort. @gacarter What is 5-4-3-2-1? Is that 5 on, 4 off, 3 on, 2 off, 1 on? That's interesting. I kind of like that for beginners and I might steal it from you for our JV workout next week.
@lisle33

What I've noticed is that if a girl and a boy have the same experience, PR, health, and work ethic at the beginning of a season, they often have similar progressions throughout the season for sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Not so much for freshmen (and other first year runners) who you just never know what will happen. I think what you're noticing is that rarely are those four things created equal at the beginning of the season for any two runners with the same PR. And so I suspect that the differences that you're noticing are a result of those differences more so than anything else. For example, with an 18:30 girl, in most cases she's probably a very experienced runner and thus has less room for improvement than the 18:30 boy.

@wfoster

I do that too. This summer I phrased it to them as just "getting a taste" of workout paces. We also do progression runs in the summer for similar reasons as the goal of the last mile is to get a taste of threshold pace/effort.

@gacarter

What is 5-4-3-2-1? Is that 5 on, 4 off, 3 on, 2 off, 1 on? That's interesting. I kind of like that for beginners and I might steal it from you for our JV workout next week.
09/04/2020 2:02:39 PM
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@spxcoachrm 5-4-3-2-1 minutes on. I'll vary the rest/off depending on heat, fitness, etc. But, rest would be descending also. Equal rest, at most.
@spxcoachrm 5-4-3-2-1 minutes on. I'll vary the rest/off depending on heat, fitness, etc. But, rest would be descending also. Equal rest, at most.
09/04/2020 2:14:17 PM
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@wfoster I don't have much to offer on the girl's side. I didn't start coaching them until Track 2018, when I took over our girls distance squad, and then fall of 2018 in XC when I started assisting Michael Sexton, our girls Head Coach. We too have found we have to be careful with mileage, and that consistency is much better than the bigger miles we try to get on the boy's side. We do adjust rest cycles sometimes, but that is more a function of the times they are running, and not gender. We do that with all runners, regardless of gender. And we have the boys and girls run workouts together, to give them more potential people to run with. I too like to use fartleks in the summer, when I'm not worried about being as precise. I feel like it is a nice transition to what we hope to accomplish workout wise in the fall. We typically do a mile on/off but we've also given them a certain amount of surges to hit per mile in the middle of a distance day. We've tried different variations. and I agree with the sentiment of the younger boys racing up compared to their workouts. Sometimes a result of physical/emotional maturity. Other times could be training age related.
@wfoster

I don't have much to offer on the girl's side. I didn't start coaching them until Track 2018, when I took over our girls distance squad, and then fall of 2018 in XC when I started assisting Michael Sexton, our girls Head Coach. We too have found we have to be careful with mileage, and that consistency is much better than the bigger miles we try to get on the boy's side. We do adjust rest cycles sometimes, but that is more a function of the times they are running, and not gender. We do that with all runners, regardless of gender. And we have the boys and girls run workouts together, to give them more potential people to run with.

I too like to use fartleks in the summer, when I'm not worried about being as precise. I feel like it is a nice transition to what we hope to accomplish workout wise in the fall. We typically do a mile on/off but we've also given them a certain amount of surges to hit per mile in the middle of a distance day. We've tried different variations.

and I agree with the sentiment of the younger boys racing up compared to their workouts. Sometimes a result of physical/emotional maturity. Other times could be training age related.

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