High School track season is over. Time to take off a few months and hit the road again in mid August, right?
As the old adage goes, a strong Cross Country team is built in the summer. There’s a reason that statement holds true year after year in High School and College XC competition – the teams that have success are comprised of runners who have already built a strong base prior to the season. Whether you’re at the top of your squad and looking to beat your conference rival, or just hoping to make the team for the first time, summer training is what will separate the contenders from the pretenders. Furthermore, the benefits of summer training go beyond just physical; in a sport where mental toughness and grit is often the deciding factor, a strategic summer training plan gets your mind sharp for balancing XC and the rest of your busy fall schedule.
So how can you ensure you use summer downtime the right way? First, sign up for the new Saucony 500 Mile Challenge – a High School Cross Country training platform where you can get rewarded for your training with awesome prizes. Then, check out these 9 rules to live by.
Talk to Your Coach
Before the summer starts, talk to your coach about upcoming XC season and determine some goals. They’ll be working out a plan for next year and you want to be a part of that, so make sure they know you’re thinking ahead. Follow their advice for the summer, and when Fall rolls around, if they see you’ve stayed committed, they’ll know they can count on you to lay it all on the line.
Get Your Gear in Order
If possible, you should have two pairs of good training shoes so you can rotate. Most training shoes last for about 8-10 weeks depending on your level of training. Take your time at your local running store and remember to go at the end of the day since your feet swell during the day. Bring a clean pair of socks and be prepared to check out 5 to 7 pairs of shoes to find the right one for you. Assess your stash of socks, shorts, tops.
Check out Saucony’s store locator for a Run Specialty retailer near you.
Taking down 8 to 10 glasses of water a day plus sports drinks and juice is a good start. Minimize how much coffee, tea and carbonated soda you drink. If you need a reminder to keep pace with your water intake, get two large clear bottles and mark them each with 4 evenly spaced horizontal lines. Label each line (from top to bottom) with sequential two-hour increments starting with 8am. So the markings on the bottles would be as follows:
bottle 1: 8am, 10am, 12pm, 2pm
bottle 2: 4pm, 6pm, 8pm, 10pm
Fill the two bottles each day and make sure you’re drinking enough that the water level keeps pace with the time!
Fuel Your Engine
To do that, you have to get the proper amount and proper types of food into your system. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, pasta, and modest amounts of fish, chicken and beef make sense. For snacks, try an apple and peanut butter. Nuts are good. Pizza, tacos and a trip to fast food places are fine, as long as you’re not doing it every day!
Call of Duty and texting all night are fun, but do it too much and it will affect your mind and body. Get 8-10 hours of sleep and, if you can, take a nap on a few afternoons per week. Yes, we know, naps are awesome.
Establish a Training Group
Though some people prefer to train alone, a group helps with the hard days or long runs. You’re a lot less likely to skip out when you know there’s someone waiting on you. Find a friend or teammate with similar interests and running goals, it will make training go by fast and fun.
Find some books that get you fired up to run. Some classics are Once a Runner, The Irishman Who Ran for England, The Lonely Breed, A Cold, Clear Day, and The Self-Made Olympian. Music can also be a great motivator. Go on Spotify and search for running playlists, or make your own and add to it every time you hear a song that gives you the eye of a tiger.
Do you want to make the top 7? Improve your times at your league and section meets? Race better over the second half of the course? Think about these things now, write them up and prop them in your room where you can read them each day. It helps to keep you on track.
Make a Mileage Plan
To reach 300 miles run over 12 weeks, you’ll need to average 25 miles a week, which is very good for freshman and sophomores. To reach 400 miles over the summer, you’ll need to average 34 miles a week, and to reach 500 miles in 12 weeks, it’ll take a weekly average of 40 miles. Find the plan that fits your ability and comfort level, and push yourself to beat it. Don’t forget to use our new High School Cross Country training platform, The 500 Mile Challenge, to take your summer training to the next level.
Stay true to these rules and every mile you log in the summer will be an extra step you gain in November.