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Training For The Championships

Article By: Sal Perez
Don Bosco, Rosemead, CA

Don Bosco, Rosemead, CA Preparing a cross country training program that will be competitive in Southern California and hopefully at the championship level in November, takes months of planning and organization. At the end of May, I hold a team meeting in which we cover everything from team philosophy, team goals for the season, summer practices, summer camp, schedules, etc. This is the time that we break the season into two periods always pointing towards November, when the championships occur. Every runner is given a summer practice schedule listing days, times and locations. Practice is held Monday through Friday. On the weekends runners are encouraged to run on their own or run with each other.

Preparation period (conditioning): Summer practice is one of the most important training times for cross country runners. This is the time when you can bring your team along slowly, not rushing the runner. This has really helped to avoid serious injuries. I encourage the runners to attend as many practices as they can if they are not with their family on vacation.

The team takes the dead period at the beginning of summer. Consistency is the emphasis of summer practice. The team is a high mileage training team. During a typical summer training week, they will run 8-10 miles per day at a relaxed pace, followed by flexibility drills, weight training and warm downs. Every run involves hills which is the geographic makeup of the area. The runners are placed in groups by ability and are able to move up or down depending on their progress. They are evaluated by the coaching staff and teammates. The highlight for the summer is the Big Bear, California training camp. I found that in the seven years at Big Bear the benefits are tremendous both in running, but more importantly, in team unity. We are there for about 10 days. The runners take this seriously, built on tradition, expectation, and desire. After our return from Big Bear the team is physically and mentally prepared for the upcoming season. Racing during the summer is recommended towards the end of the preparation period. The runners enter local 5K road races plus occasional two mile fun runs.

Competition period(specific training): The early competition phase begins early September and lasts through October. I view the early races of the season as training and learning experiences and do not cut back on training for the sake of racing. During the first six weeks of school the team starts hill and long speed repeat sessions. The team has the luxury of not emphasizing on the league season. The mileage is a little less, but the repeat pace is increased and the invitationals gain more importance each week. In the general competition phase we emphasize the importance of certain races but I never want the runners to lose focus on the end goal, which is the Southern California Championships and the State Championships.

Competition period: During the peak competition phase by the end of October the mileage has decreased, stressing a much quicker tempo and shorter distance on our speed runs. I try to make sure that the team does not leave the races at practice. I have to closely monitor the workouts because the runners become so competitive that the athletes tend to race at practice. I stress the importance of eating well, getting the proper amount of sleep, sometimes difficult for them because of the academic work loads they carry, and the importance of taking care of any illness or injury.

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