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General Adaptation Syndrome and Cross Country Training

In 1932, physiologist W.A. Engelhardt, for the first time introduced the definition of the training process as a physiological breakdown that serves as a specific stimulus for the subsequent adaptive recovery process.  While Engelhardt’s experiments worked with laboratory animals, injected drugs, and introduced stimuli far above what the animals were accustomed to, this idea became the starting point for the concepts of quantitative human training and levels of recovery in athletes.  In 1936, Austrian (later Canadian) endocrinologist Hans Selye expanded on Engelhardt’s hypothesis and wrote about a stress condition known as general adaptation syndrome (GAS). Selye first observed the symptoms of GAS after injecting ovarian extracts into laboratory rats, an experiment he performed with the intent of discovering a new hormone.  Instead, however, he found that the…

Functional Endurance Strength in Cross Country Training

Strength is one of the five primary physical components (speed, endurance, flexibility, strength, coordination) that defines athleticism.  Cross country runners, like all athletes, benefit from the improvement of all five physical components to the degree to which their particular sport demands.  Strength training must always be focused on training the movement, rather than the muscle, so a close examination of an individual distance running style is always the first step in the process.  Movement screenings that measure six to seven different exercises directly related to the repeated vertical oscillation and foot strike pattern of a distance runners movement signature are essential to initiating and monitoring improvement of their athletic skills.  Today we will look at functional endurance strength. Movement itself is recognized as a continuous…

Advanced Coaching Systems: What Really Drives Successful Programs [Zoom Seminar]

On Thursday (4/23) and Friday (4/24) we’re running the 2nd (and final) round of our CTF live Zoom webinar. The first time we ran it, we opened it to the first 100 coaches who signed up and it sold out in less than 21 hours. This time, we’re once again making it available to the first 100 coaches who sign up. As of this writing (1pm on 4/21) we’re almost half way to capacity. Here’s the original promotion. I highly recommend you attend: ==-=-==–=-= I’m really excited about the topic for several reasons, not the least of which being that I haven’t seen anyone else teach these topics, and I think it’s something you’ll want to be a part of. Here’s the rundown: At some point…

Two Peaking Workouts You Must Do with Your Cross Country Athletes

A cross country runner that has a training age of two or more, and who had a pretty good summer of running, can expect about a five percent improvement over the 14 week fall season in their 5k time from start to finish.  Those with a training age of less than two years, or who had a sketchy summer of running, may improve more than 5%, but of course they are starting with a much softer time.  The 5% in-season time improvement in the experienced runner’s performance is commonly seen broken down this way: general prep (4 weeks) 1% improvement, specific prep (3 weeks) 2% improvement, pre-comp (3 weeks) 1% improvement, and the competition period (3 weeks) 1% improvement.  Today we will discuss two peaking…

Measuring Velocity as Meters Per Second in Cross Country Training

Most cross country coaches have a top training group within their team, whether they actually label it that way or not.  This group typically consists of about a dozen runners on bigger teams, but maybe just four or five on a smaller team.  These are the runners the head coach keeps the closest eye on.  They are the people coaches monitor for appropriate acute and chronic recovery intervals and timeframes. Work sessions are constructed off of the skill and determination of this group. Today we’ll consider the value of velocity as measured in meters per second (m/s). The members of the top training group are the heartbeat of the team.  They generally are older, more experienced, and savvy to the rigor of training and racing. …

How Much Rest Do Distance Runners Need After Cross Country?

Your distance runners come out of cross country season and you need a little bit of a break. This immediately brings up lots of discussion amongst coaches because there are coaches out there that think distance runners don’t need rest after cross country or during the year and there are other coaches that think the break after cross country is much longer than it needs to be. The facts are this: In high school, we’re dealing with growing, developing and maturing young men and young women and a lot of energy each day goes into this growth and development. When we are running hard, designing good workouts for both cross country and track, we’re tapping into that energy. It does start to wear on the…

Three Things

It’s important for everyone who’s interested in track and field to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. After all, this is a sport that is not always considered to be the premier and most exciting to fans, and it is certainly not one of the most sought after or respected among its peers. For a lot of people, track and field has become second to most sports, including football, basketball, ice hockey, soccer, and even lacrosse. We are the people who feel differently about this. We are the life blood that pulses through the veins of track and field; we are the heartbeat and the rhythm that keeps it alive. It does not matter whether you are taking part by participating in track…

The Truth About Distance Runners and the Weight Room

  Finally! Scott Christensen’s newest course is finally ready for you, and we can’t wait to see the results you get because of it. If you’re currently trying to incorporate a functional strength training and power development component to your middle distance and distance program, or you think you want to start, make sure to read this entire post because it could be the missing link to finally running a fully modernized system for maximizing the potential of your endurance-based ATHLETES. You’re about to discover how a few simple strength and power training tactics could finally allow your runners to shed seconds and minutes from their best performances; times they simply can’t achieve by only doing more of the mileage and long interval training their…

How to Train Sprinters Who Run Cross Country

 “SHOULD SPRINTERS RUN CROSS COUNTRY?” Many coaches ask, “Should sprinters run cross country?”  You will hear some power/speed gurus quickly say unequivocally “NO!” because it will have a negative effect on an athletes speed qualities.  I think the question requires some deeper investigation…   ANTI EARLY SPECIALIZATION I am happy to see that public awareness against early specialization is gaining momentum.  I firmly believe in well-rounded athletic experiences for children and adolescents.  I am opposed to the ten year old that is on two travel baseball teams and visits a private hitting instructor in the off season to the exclusion of all other sports and the fun of socialization and discovery that comes with participation in a variety of team and individual sports.  Children should…

How to Plan Summer Training for Cross Country Runners

As the track season winds down in the spring, distance runners enter a time that sport scientists call the transitional phase in the annual plan. More specifically, it’s the time where summer training for cross country becomes the priority. Track is an unusual sport in that there is no one time that all of the athletes are finished with their season.  An athlete that finishes up with a junior varsity meet or a sophomore championship meet may end their season more than a month earlier than the athlete competing at the state championships.  And of course the very best runners may go on to run at an all-star meet or USATF Junior Nationals.  It is just not a clean ending for everybody.  The transitional phase serves…