Article written by Coach Ponsonby / taken from NJ Milesplit.
Coach has been working with world-class middle distance and distance athletes for over a decade now. Ponsonby has overseen the success of multiple NCAA, World and Olympic champions, including Silver Medalist Leo Manzano.
I have taken the liberty to edit this article only because sections of what he discusses are part of our program. The purpose of showing what he wrote is for you to see that our training plan is on par with his philosophy and that by being dedicated to it, you can become a successful XC runner.
Reflection is Key
With the track season coming to a close, you should take a moment and reflect on the past season. With my Elites, I sit them down at the end of the season and debrief. What was good? What wasn’t good? Where can we make changes? Did we have any injuries last season or major illnesses? If yes, why? How can we prevent unwanted interruptions in training/racing from reoccurring? It’s important to reflect on, learn, and bring closure to last season before moving on to the next. Then, take your break and do just that, break. My Elites take 2-4 weeks off completely from running. This is also a good time to set goals for next season.
Goal Setting: Establish Your Target, Be Persistent
What do you want to accomplish next season? Set a new PR? Make Varsity? Crack the top 5 in your XC team? Win a State title? Earn a Division I scholarship? Great. How are you going to accomplish this? Do you have a plan? Mileage, Workouts, General Strength exercises, drills etc.? It’s up to you, and it starts this summer. Start with your big, end goal, then work your way down to the details of training that will get you there. Ideally, this should be done with your Coach.
Back in high school, I had a great relationship with my coach, and that was an important part of my success. I trusted his guidance, and I believed in our process. This trust and belief was key to my success. Beyond that, be sure to surround yourself with a strong network to support your goals. Your family, friends, coaches and teammates are there for you. Believe in the process. Believe in yourself.
You may be fortunate enough to have the optimal high school support and infrastructure with a team of 100+ athletes, or you could be the only member on your XC team and coach-less. Regardless, running allows you the opportunity to compete all the same, no matter your situation. If you dedicate yourself to your goals and work hard, you can still thrive and succeed in this sport. That’s the beauty of running.
Summer Training Overview
Volume: This depends on the individual athlete. I have known many High School cross country runners who were regularly running 35-50 miles/week and others who were above 75 miles/week. Without knowing more about you and your running history, I recommend you find the range that feels best for you. If you need to increase your mileage, do so conservatively after several weeks of running at your previous base. Then, increase by only a few miles a week. Your mileage volume during summer training will benefit you throughout the rest of the year. Be consistent and patient with your mileage.
Pace: You’d be surprised at how many young athletes get fixated on pace. During this portion of the summer, it’s better to run at comfortable pace. I call it “easy running” for a reason. It should be manageable at this point. Long Runs can be a little bit faster, but still within control.
Core and Supplementary work: Developing tensile strength is good for a couple of reasons. It will make you stronger and minimize your risk of injury. I recommend you spend 6-12 minutes a day doing some type of continuous core work. (I really like Core routines of 20-40sec each exercise done continuously) and medicine ball exercises are great too. Get into the gym 1-2 days a week. Keep the routine basic and avoid heavy lifting.