My 11 year old son’s goal for cross country is to qualify for the Junior Olympic National Championships, to place in the top 10 of the Wilton XC Invitational (local middle school invitational), and to run a 5:30 mile. I encourage him to set reasonable, achievable goals (sometimes stretch goals are ok), and to plan his training to support achieving his goals. Although only 11 years old, my son understands that he must build summer mileage, stay healthy, and very important – he should enjoy and love running. As his Dad and coach, my role is to guide, support and manage expectations.
We changed my son’s summer training program to focus on several aspects of his running. To continue building his aerobic base, we increased from 4 to 5 days of running per week, which raised his mileage from the low 20’s to the high 20’s. To push out his lactate threshold, we emphasized tempo runs or threshold 1200’s to 2000’s on the track. To develop his speed (and kick at end of races), we incorporated 6 x 200 progressions (from 35 to 32 seconds) at the end of 6 mi trail runs. To ensure that he stays healthy, we cross-trained from Taekwondo (he’s a 2nd degree black belt and working on his 3rd degree) to swimming (up to 1000 meters in the pool) to core exercises to strength training (free weights 1x per week). And ensured that he ate well and slept long.
This summer – from mid-June to end-August, my son ran 323 miles on 59 days, or about 5.5 miles per running day. He ran on 75% of the days. This includes one week in early August at the Nike Green Mountain Running Camp in Vermont.
To put that in context, for the year to date (beginning of January through end of August), he ran 803 miles on 153 days, or about 5.25 miles (lower average partially due to outdoor track workouts and meets). That represents running on 63% of the days (partly due to running 4 days per week before summer).
With the summer training program completed, my son should be well positioned for cross country. He’s run as many miles this summer as some high school freshmen. The quality workouts focused on endurance, strength and speed. He’s stayed healthy. And he believes he has a future in running and talks about his desire to run a sub-4 minute mile and is inspired by Steve Prefontaine. All good stuff. On August 23, 2013 he ran a hilly 5K in 20:34, which is a 42 second improvement from the same race in 2012 and only 10 seconds slower than his PR late last fall. His goal this year is to break 20 minutes. It’s all in the summer training.