21 High School Cross Country Training Articles Guaranteed to Upgrade Your Program From #1 to #7 ...and Beyond

From developing positive team culture and deciding whether or not to have your sprinters run cross to summer, winter, and peaking workouts and training strategies, here are our 21 most popular articles handing you everything you need to know about running and growing a highly successful high school cross country program!

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1. Summer Training for HS Cross Country Runners

Summer Cross Country Training

"As the track season winds down in the spring, the distance runners enter a time that sport scientists call the transitional phase in the annual plan. The transitional phase serves to re-align the training program of all of your distance runners while also providing a time for regeneration and relaxation before summer training for cross country runners starts. Note that there is a difference between summer training for cross country and just running.  Training is consistent everyday running..."  Read the Rest of This Article... 


2. Nine Day Cross Country Training Microcycle

9 Day Cross Country Microcycle

"Perhaps the most used concept in cross country training theory is the shortest training cycle, or the microcycle. This word is by no means interchangeable with the common seven-day week of Sunday through Saturday that rules most of our personal lives, but unfortunately this confusion is found among many coaches. Like the five-day workweek, plus the two-day weekend found in our society, a microcycle is a block of time that repeats itself over and over in some form or another with one microcycle leading into another..."  Read the Rest of This Article... 


3. Planned Balanced (Not *Just* Distance Running) for HS Cross Country Athletes

Planned Balance Cross Country

"In cross country running training, endurance is developed through the training modalities of continuous running, interval running, and repetition running.  Since all three of these vary chiefly in the rest between bouts of work performed in a training session, improved endurance is the result if implemented properly..." Read the Rest of This Article...


4. Managing Cross Country Phases and Periods

Cross Country Training Phases and Periods

"...Take a sample 14 week macrocycle in high school cross country which will first be divided into a Preparation Phase and then a Competition Phase.  As far as the themes go, in the Preparation Phase the athletes are training to train and in the Competition Phase the athletes are training to race.  The dividing line becomes the important factor.  Many coaches feel all races are important, and in many respects they are, but the end of season competitions are usually the most important. ..."  Read the Rest of This Article... 


5. Cross Country Workout Themes

Cross Country Workout Themes

"One of the most important chores that a cross country coach does is to set the workout themes for the many daily sessions during the season.  The workouts must be compatible with the other workouts that are sequenced around each other, and themes must be appropriate for the time in the macrocycle in which they are found..."  Read the Rest of This Article... 


6. Scott Christensen's Two Favorite Cross Country Workouts

Scott Christensen Favorite Workouts

"...How do you come up with favorite workouts for your team?  The favorites cannot come from what is best for you, or doing work at what they are already good at.  Additionally, these favorite workouts must stand the test of time and be quantitative so that results can be compared over various training periods and among different athletes that you have coached...."  Read the Rest of This Article... 


7. The Long Run

The Long Run Cross Country

"Long continuous runs, other than recovery runs, that are run at or below 70% of VO2 Max (approximately 130-140 beats per minute) will bring about significant aerobic adaptations if done properly.  The use of fatty acids as the primary substrate will spare glycogen for use at faster running speeds during later workouts in the microcycle.  The nature of this type of continuous running emphasizes volume at appropriate intensities to keep the heart rate within the 130-140 bpm range for an extended period of time..."  Read the Rest of This Article... 


8. Hill Training for HS Cross Country Runners

Cross Country Hill Workouts

"One of the goals of hill training, beyond improved anaerobic energy system metabolism, is to improve the athlete’s stride and enhance muscular strength in preparation of the subsequent sharpening work that will be done during the competitive phase of the training cycle..." Read the Rest of This Article... 


9. Peaking Workouts for Cross Country Runners

Peaking Workouts for Distance Runners

"Training theorists categorize the block of preparation time around the championship meets as the competitive period of the season. Training is not the focus, the races are. A cross country runner is perhaps the most fit that they have ever been in their life at this time. Training stimuli has led to adaptations that are now fully complete. Physiologists examining the fitness of the runner would probably note the following trends as the competitive period progresses..." Read the Rest of This Article... 


10. Cross Country Workout Recovery Protocol

Cross Country Workout Recovery Protocol

"The recovery period from a workout is more comprehensive then just stopping practice and going home for the day.  Rather, it should be a consistent protocol of key recovery techniques that will bring the athlete back to baseline homeostasis in the quickest, least stressful way so that workout fatigue can be addressed and the improvement of fitness can begin..."  Read the Rest of This Article... 


11. Shifting the Cross Country Training Paradigm

Shifting the Cross Country Training Paradigm

"It is not unusual for some coaches and many athletes to forsake their current training programs and blindly follow the training program of an elite distance runner whose methods are posted on the internet or in the printed word.  Such a practice is not recommended and is ripe with problems, but it is also the means by which new, and sometimes effective, training methods are introduced into widespread coaching theory..."  Read the Rest of This Article... 


12. Coordination as a Primary Physical Component in Cross Country Training

Coordination Primary Physical Component of Cross Country

"In cross country training, one of the most over-looked components is coordination.  This important component is part of every stride cycle of running, as it involves foot impact, ground time, and toe-off.  The better the athlete’s coordination and balance in mastering the rate of this three-part transition is vital to distance running success..."  Read the Rest of This Article... 


13. Strength Training for Cross Country Runners

Strength Training for Cross Country Runners

"Body weight resistance is enough to develop the strength needed to successfully complete a cross country race.  By adding artificial resistance, too much unnecessary muscle fiber enlargement and recruitment occurs at a very steep oxygen cost.  The concept of efficient running economy outweighs these unnecessary muscle mass gains..."  Read the Rest of This Article... 


14. Flexibility is a Primary Physical Component of Cross Country Training

Flexibility Cross Country Training Component

"Flexibility during movement must be viewed as a dynamic controlling quality: it allows the joint to go through a wide range of motion as can be controlled.  The controlling nature of flexibility governs two areas: the range of motion used in running performance and the length of the movement available for force production and reduction..."  Read the Rest of This Article... 


15. A Proper Cross Country Warm Up

Cross Country Warm up

"The active cross country warm up should gradually build up to and slightly exceed the prescribed pace that will be undertaken in the main unit of the session.  It is important to realize that cross country runners are generally not good at the bio-motor skills of flexibility and coordination.  For this reason, they will do much of their warm-up too quickly and awkwardly.  A proper coaching cue is to not rush through it and emphasize the importance of what is done properly..." Read the Rest of This Article... 


16. Developing Positive Cross Country Team Culture (Part I)

Cross Country Team Culture

"A cross country coach wants their program to be cool in their school. A refuge each day for veteran athletes and a cannot miss activity for the younger athletes...Talent is certainly a plus, but team members and coaches should not judge others on talent, but by all means on effort. It should not be a place where the coach or captain must take attendance every day because people come and go randomly. Attendance is a bare minimum requirement for anything worthwhile in life and it should be very obvious to all when an athlete is missing, and the peer scrutiny that follows when that athlete returns. A positive team exists with..."  Read the Rest of This Article... 


17. Developing Positive Cross Country Team Culture (Part II)

Cross Country Team Culture

"An athletic culture that separates performance from personality has been shown to lead to high levels of motivation and self-esteem in team members. A cross country team that has an approachable, well-rounded, passionate, and respected leader (coach) who further propagates positive attitudes of motivation and self-esteem is the driver of the cultural attitude of the program. A positive culture chiefly exists because the attitude and the values of the coach have..."  Read the Rest of This Article... 


18. How to Establish Cross Country Training Groups

High School Cross Country Training

"If your top training group is running about 65 miles per nine-day microcycle, then your less skilled or new-comers are at about 42 miles for each nine-day cycle.  Intensity follows the same rule of two-thirds.  The less skilled athletes have not developed a high lactate response yet, so high intensity work will fatigue them very quickly..." Read the Rest of This Article... 


19. Should Your Sprinters Run Cross Country? (The Answer May Surprise You!)

Should sprinters run cross country?

"To progressive programs and coaches, running a ‘modified’ cross country program for sprint types who want to be successful is, at the very least, an interesting option.  On the other side of the spectrum are people who freak out over the idea. There are many variables involved for kids considering this route. On the one hand you simply can’t get fast by running slow despite most sprints programs attempting to prove otherwise..." Read the Rest of This Article... 


20. How to Train Sprinters Who Run Cross Country

Cross Country Training

"However, also included in good distance training programs are elements that are shared with good sprint programs such as general strength, coordination and speed.  Good distance training programs involve circuit training for strength. Good distance training programs involve drills and short sprints for coordination and speed.  Therefore, with some simple modifications of methods and volumes of the endurance component, “cross country training” can be appropriate for the 'sprint type' athlete..." Read the Rest of This Article...


21. Winter Training Strategies for the HS Cross Country Runner

Winter Cross Country Training

"After a three to five week break following the cross country season it is time to restart aerobic cross country training and develop a bigger aerobic base.  The training emphasis begins with 5-7 mile runs done continuously at a steady pave near the aerobic threshold.  These workouts will be the major portion of the winter training program because it takes so long to structurally remodel the aerobic system of humans..." Read the Rest of This Article...



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