Cross Country Wrap Up 2017

At our cross country conference meet this year, our women finished third and our men finished fifth. We had nine women and six(!) men. It is unheard of to have only six runners at a conference meet and finish in the top half, by the way.

My team probably has the lowest injury rate in the NCAA, which is not to say we don’t have injuries. We do, but nothing that prevents an athlete from competing the entire season. I used to think bragging about our low injury rates would help “sell the program," but now I think it might be counterproductive because it may give the impression we don’t train hard enough, which is ludicrous. Come to one of my practices. My athletes
run their butts off.

The best indicator of race performance is the Wednesday interval workout, and the best indicator of a good Wednesday workout is the Monday speed workout. My top men ran 40 miles a week towards the end of the season and my top women ran 35 miles a week towards the end of the season. A typical week looked something like this:

Monday: Speed Workout
Total Distance: 1000 meters to 2000 meters
Example: 10x 200 meters with 200 meter walk

Tuesday: Tempo Run
Total Distance: 2 to 6 miles
Example: 2x 2.5 miles with 1 minute rest @ 6-minute mile pace

Wednesday: Interval Workout
Total Distance: 5000 meters to 10000 meters
Example: 5x 1000 meters with 3 minute rest

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Recovery Intervals
Total Distance: 4000 meters to 8000 meters
Example: 40x 200 meters (on grass) @ 40-seconds with 40-second rest

Saturday: Race
Total Distance: 5000 meters to 10000 meters

Sunday: Long Run
Total Distance: 4 miles (really!) to 16 miles (really!)

Comparing cross country times year to year is not always accurate because venues and courses constantly shift and change (not to mention the changing weather). Did my runners run faster? I believe so (we only raced at one venue that we ran at last year). Several of my runners had their best race at our conference meet, which was at a course we ran at earlier in the season, and half of them ran faster by more than a minute!

time difference

After each race, I “score” the runners on their pacing. A young cross country runner may run their first mile faster than their last mile, whereas a veteran cross country runner will run their last mile at the same pace as their first mile, and finish higher. My runners really enjoy this post race analysis, probably because everyone is on a level playing field regardless of talent.


A final note. My runners’ sprint speed increased throughout the season despite the increase in training volume.
My runner’s where faster in a sprint at the end of the cross country season than they were at the beginning, and I am excited to see them run even faster on the track!

Jon has more than 40,000 hours as a personal trainer and can be reached at or 732-475-0142.