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Middle Distance Winter Training

Posted by Scott Christensen



Middle distance winter training is the time of the year that many physiological development gains can be made in middle distance athlete fitness, and not just in the endurance component of training.  Speed, strength, coordination, and flexibility gains can be realized as well during this calendar period despite the weather.  It can also be a time of confusion as athletes once again pick up their training or are working around participation in other sports.  As the middle distance coach you are anxious to see the athletes training once again, but you do not want to interfere with their other sports or put too much structure in their training for fear of getting them tired of you later down the road.  In addition there is seldom a firm date by which they will all start training once again, so some runners will be more fit than others as the track season gets closer and closer.   Thus they will not be capable of doing the same preseason workouts together, which adds to the confusion.

Most high school middle distance runners have some sort of early winter break following the cross country season.  Depending on a number of things this break from training may include most of December.  The exception is of course is in the Northeast, where indoor track starts soon after cross country ends.  Off means off and athletes will benefit by this short period of rest and regeneration.  Around New Year’s Day the athletes can start running again.  Notice I said running and not training.  Suggest two to three weeks of running a few days per week and doing what they please, but caution them to begin slowly in both volume and intensity.

Coaching Resource:  Speed Development for Distance Runners

For their middle distance winter training, following a short period of casual running, present your athletes with a list of goals to accomplish each week until the start of track season, such as shown in the schedule below.  Do not make it a daily schedule, as one must allow for weather problems, illness and just the fact that it is still preseason.  By giving them a list of training goals by the week it also allows the athletes to be creative in their workouts.  They will learn some basis of training theory and may even find some new courses.  It also allows them within their training group to plan for the week rather than being directed by the coach.  It will certainly reveal the leaders of the team.

I have also found off-season work in both summer and winter to be contagious if done well.  For example, I call my training group something completely different from the high school team name.  If I give them a training t-shirt, it contains the name of the training group rather than the school name and it is done in non-school colors.  This also helps get alumni back training in the group as it looks to be a different affiliation than something they are trying to put in their rear-view mirror.  The training group should have its own identity, so anything you can think of that makes it cool interesting and different helps!

Distance Runner? Learn about Winter Development in Cross Country Training

In the winter training model shown below, middle distance athletes can jump into the workout program whenever they are available.  If they go on a vacation to the beach or to the Rocky Mountains skiing they will know what they need to get done no matter where they are.  It takes the pressure off of you the coach to always come up with something new and different when you are really not coaching the team in-season.  Above all, it puts ownership into their training scheme with just enough direction from you.

Tall Trees Training Group
Winter 2012
8 Weeks

January 16-22

30 miles this week
5 training sessions
A continuous 7 mile run
A hill session (10 x 150 meter hill [Blackwoods Hill], jog down the hill)
Three coordination, flexibility and body core sessions

January 23- January 29

30 miles this week
5 training sessions
A continuous 7 mile run
A speed session of 10 x 30 meters on the fly, 3 min rest between each
A hill session (Blackwoods)
Three coordination, flexibility and body core sessions

January 30-February 5

35 miles this week
6 training sessions
A continuous 7 mile run
A hill session (Blackwoods)
A telephone pole fartlek run (sprint between 6 different telephone poles within a 5 mile run, space them out within the middle 3 miles)
Three coordination, flexibility and body core sessions

February 6-February 12;”>

35 miles this week
6 training sessions
A continuous 8 mile run
A hill session (Blackwoods)
A speed session of 10 x 30 meters on the fly
Four coordination, flexibility and body core sessions

February 13-February 19

35 miles this week
6 training sessions
A continuous 8 mile run
A telephone pole fartlek run (8 poles)
A hill session (6 x 250 meter hill [Mulberry Hill], jog down between)
Four coordination, flexibility and body core sessions

February 20-February 26

40 miles this week
6 training sessions
A continuous 8 mile run
A hill session (Mulberry)
A speed session of 10 x 40 meters on the fly
A telephone pole fartlek run (8 poles)
Four coordination, flexibility and body core sessions

February 27-March 4

45 miles this week
6 training sessions
A continuous 9 mile run
A two mile for time (marked asphalt trail)
Four coordination, flexibility, and body core sessions

March 5-March 11

45 miles this week
7 training sessions
A continuous 9 mile run
A speed session of 10 x 40 meters on the fly
A VO2 max session of 5 x 800 (track or well marked trail)
A hill session (4 x 1000 meter hill [Lookout Hill], jog down between)
Four coordination, flexibility and body core sessions

<First track meet is March 27

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Scott Christensen is the head track coach at Stillwater Area High School in Oak Park Heights, MN.

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