Our goal is to be “running fit” by the first official day of the XC season. That means being a) injury-free, b) strong enough to absorb 5-day-a week workouts, and c) able to run 6 miles at an easy pace and 3 miles with some intensity. Our strategy?

    1)     Start immediately and conservatively, within the limits of your current fitness.

    2)      Slowly add distance in an incremental way to your weekly total and long run.

    3)      Be consistent, avoiding both layoffs of more than two days and runs that are too strenuous.

    4)      Use off days for cross-training—biking, swimming, hiking, etc.

    5)      Once a week take a full day’s rest.

    6)      Take responsibility for your own training, participating in group runs but supplementing them on your own.

    The Five Essentials:

    1)      Good running shoes, bought where they can evaluate your gait.

    2)      A water bottle and a way to carry it with you in runs that take more than an hour.

    3)      A stop watch: a cheap digital wristwatch works fine.

    4)      A small notebook to log your runs.

    5)      A good attitude: patient positive persistent, self-starting and team-oriented.

    Dynamic drills and plyometrics; Core work:

    - You should include 10-15 minutes of dynamic drills (lunges, high knees, leg swings, acceleration strides, etc) and plyometrics (jumps, hops, skips) as part of each day’s warm-up, just after your 10-minute warm-up jog. After the day’s run spend 15 minutes on core work (planks, crunches, etc). We usually avoid plyometrics at the end of a workout, since tired legs are more susceptible to injury.
    - Make core work a part of your off-day exercise as well. If you’re going on a long bike ride, for example, stop at the mid-point and do 15-minutes of core work. Adding strength and flexibility to the hips, back, and abdomen—as well as the legs—is the best way to prevent injury from the repetitive stress of running.
    Pacing: Go “beyond jogging”— except for your daily 10-minute warm-up and 5-minute cool-down.

    -  “Beyond jogging” paces vary by gender, age, experience, natural talent, and fitness. Start with an estimate of your own current 5K race pace (RP) in minutes/mile. How? Returning runners can divide last year’s best 5K time by 3. New runners who recently raced a mile can multiply that time by 1.12. Others can make an estimate using this table of 5K RPs for our 2013 BIXC team:

                                #1     #10     #20      #30      #40     #50     #60

                Men       5:25   5:50     6:05     6:30     7:00     7:20     7:55

                Women  6:25    7:10     7:35     8:10     9:10     --         --

    - Calculate other paces by using your current Race Pace (RP)

                Long run pace:   RP + 2:00/mile .

                Tempo pace:      RP + 0:45/mile (+ 0:10/400)

                Race pace:        RP

                Intervals pace:   RP - 0:10/400

    - Most pre-season miles will be at your “long run pace.” But you need to train at faster paces too: if you always run at the same speed, your body won’t learn how to run faster. On longer runs, insert a few surges—for example, 2 minutes at “tempo” or 1 minute at “race pace” or 30 seconds at “intervals pace.” As you get stronger, increase the number and/or length of these surges. In addition, experienced runners should focus one day a week on faster running: for example, 2 x 1 mile at tempo, or 3 x 1K at RP, or 6 x 400 at intervals pace, filling out your day’s mileage with slower running and jogging. 

    Running/Walking: notes for new runners and others in the low mileage group

    - Slow steady jogging is less effective than running fast enough to get your pulse above 120, then taking a short, brisk walking-break. Progressively reduce the walk-breaks, for example from 5 minutes run/2 minutes walk to 6/2, 7/1.5, 8/1—until you can run the full distance. Then gradually introduce surges.
    - The week or two before you shift from 3 days/week to 4 days/week, add a day where you hike very briskly for 45-60 minutes.

    Hill Repeats:

    - One of the best ways to gain strength as a runner without over-stressing your legs is to run up hills. Many of our Bainbridge routes include hills and running them is a kind of surge. But some days you should devote 15-30 minutes to hill running, in one of two ways:  a) repeatedly run fast up a short (1-3 minutes) steep hill, jogging back down; b) run at a steady pace up a long (4-12 minutes) but more gradual hill, striding back down at about the same pace.  Try both kinds of hill: they strengthen your body in different ways.

    Dealing with Injuries:

    - A little stiffness and soreness are normal. But if pain is sharp, or if it does not go away during the warm-up, you may have an injury. Most running injuries are the cumulative result of running too far (or too fast) too soon: typically pain in the ankle, shin, or knee.   Such “over-use” injuries often build up over several days. If you try to “run through” an injury (as you would normal stiffness and soreness), it is likely to get worse. So the best response is to talk with one of your coaches and then rest a day or two, using ice to reduce swelling, and massaging stiff muscles with rollers. Often you can still do vigorous cross-training: deep-water pool-running is especially effective, as is spinning, especially when combined with vigorous core work. Most important, however, is determining what caused the injury so that you can avoid it in the future. It may be as simple as cutting back on the length and intensity of your runs. But there may be physical problems that a physical therapist or doctor will need to address.