We received a great question for Dr. Daniels about how to manage athletes’ training in the off-season.

Coach Clegg:  As a high school cross country coach, I would love to get some ideas how how to best bridge the gap between fall XC and spring track.  My state (IL) has a number of off season restrictions on our contact with athletes, but I would love to have some info that I could provide to my kids to help them maintain the fitness they achieved in the fall. 

Dr. Jack Daniels:  What I have had considerable success with relative to training between fall and spring seasons is to focus more on improving shorter-distance events.  When I had an indoor season my distance athletes raced more 800s, 1000s and miles rather than longer events (3k, 5k).

Depends some on what weather you have in the winter, but I would suggest doing two Repetition sessions each week (with about 1 to 2 miles total per session of running 200s and/or 400s at CURRENT mile race pace, and equal distance recovery jogs following each).  Have 2 or 3 Easy running days between the two Quality sessions.  One other day each week get in a relatively Long run that totals about 25-30% of the individual’s weekly mileage total.  All other days of running are just Easy days, and try to get in some running on 6 or 7 days each week.

One adjustment to make relative to the Rep runs would be to run 30-40 second uphill runs instead of the flat 200s or 400s.  These uphill runs could also be done on a treadmill if outside weather is too wet or cold.  The Reps and uphill runs both do a good job of improving running economy and basic speed, which benefits you in the coming Spring outdoor season when you add Interval and Threshold workouts (and races) to the schedule.  With runners who have a variety of weekly mileage totals, limit the amount of faster running (200s and 400s) to no more than 5% of weekly mileage or 5 miles, whichever comes first (for younger runners I am sure using the 5% value is the way to go).  I hope things go well for your team.

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