Training for High School Cross Country

by Tyler
(California)

Hello, Dominique. I would like some help as to how I should train for high school cross country. Currently, I am in the 8th grade and I run somewhere between 7-7:30 for the regular mile.

I'm sure I could do better but I don't play any sports right now so I am somewhat out of shape.

Then, today, I ran the 1.5 and got a time of 12:03 and I ended completely out of breath.

For the first half of that, I kept up a pretty good pace. I think my mid-way time was about 5:30. But on the second half (which is slightly up-hill), I had to repeatedly stop to catch my breath.


So that's where I am with running right now.

However, I'm seriously thinking of joining the high school cross country team this fall. That leaves me about 3 and a half months to train. By the end of summer, they said I should be running under 24 minutes for 3 miles. Any help would be appreciated!
p.s. If it matters much, I am a mere 5'3" and I weigh 110 pounds.


Answer by Dominique:
Hi Tyler,
Thanks for your running training question.

With 1.5 miles in 12.03 you are a little bit away from 3 miles within 24 minutes, but with three months to go it is very doable.

I am so glad you come to me now and not two weeks before the end of summer holidays!

In order to improve your running it is best to run at least three times per week, more is better.

What you should first aim for is to be able to run the three miles without stopping. You don't have to do this at a fast pace. Just do easy pace, the pace at which you'd be able to have a conversation. Then when you are able to do that, go a bit further. Build it up until you are able to do five miles, even six, at an easy pace quite easily.
Also see increasing mileage safely and base running drills.

This type of running, easy running, helps build your endurance. Imagine how much faster you would have been in your 1.5 miles if you were able to cover 5-6 miles quite easily!

Then when you are able to do that I would advise you to start doing one out of three sessions per week at a faster pace. If you do more running workouts then make it two speed sessions out of four or five sessions.

This faster running can either be tempo running or interval running or fartlek.

This will help develop other body systems that will make you faster.

Do your running training consistently and I would hope that you will be able to tackle that 3 mile challenge in 24 minutes comfortably.

For more guidance about running training, check out my running training-section.


Best of luck.
Kind regards,
Dominique

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