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Cross Country Assessment of the Primary Physical Components

Cross Country Assessment of the Primary Physical Components To improve athletic performance in any sport requires ongoing development of the five primary physical components: speed, endurance, strength, flexibility, and coordination.  Balanced development in these five bio-motor skills is sport specific with the training emphasis on each of the five determined by the demands of the sport and the profile of the athlete.  In cross country running there is a heavy emphasis on endurance training, with the other four components used to a lesser degree to maximize performance.  Overall, cross country running performance is easy to assess as it is the elapsed time on the watch for the distance raced.  This final time however does not tell the whole story of the five primary physical components…

Endurance as a Primary Physical Component in Cross Country

Endurance as a Primary Physical Component in Cross Country It can be said that a high level of endurance is the most important of the five primary physical components found in a cross country runner.  The danger in making such a statement is that it may diminish the importance of the other four: speed, strength, flexibility and coordination in setting up the training plan of that runner.  A planned balance training scheme addresses all five of the primary physical components, but it scales the importance of each to the specific demands of the athletic activity.  [/img_text_aside] Endurance is worked on and developed most often in a cross country runner, while the other four are developed to a lesser degree over time. However, a player in…

Should You Get This New Advanced Topics in Cross Country Training Program?

If you’re the type of cross country coach who, when the right program comes along, isn’t afraid to spend actual human money in order to get better at coaching, keep reading.  That being the case, I’ll skip all the standard fare marketing strategies and get right down to brass tacks: Is Scott Christensen’s new Advanced Topics in Cross Country Training program the right coaching resource for you? I’m finding there are two primary questions you may have, either of which could be preventing you from investing in the course. Here they are (and if I swung and missed, you can post your question/s at the bottom of the page): Question #1: “I have some of Scott’s other Complete Track and Field Programs. How much of the material in…

Summer Camp Registration Deadline is This Friday!

If you’re still debating whether or not to come to the clinic this summer, search #ctfclinic on Twitter to see what past attendees said during and after the event. So, every year we get a flood of last minute registrations and countless sad stories from coaches, parents, and athletes who waited too long and get locked out. If you want to take advantage of the $50.00 ‘Early Bird’ discount and NOT have to pay full price, you MUST register by the end of the day this Friday, May 27. ⇒ Register now for the 2016 CTF Summer Clinic (click on the event groups in the menu for their individual pages.) Coaches: Remember, if you send three athletes from your program, you can come for free. If you coach high school…

Speed as a Primary Physical Component in Cross Country Training

  Despite what it is intuitive to the training of cross country runners, absolute speed is a critical primary physical component to five kilometer (k) racing success.  Many studies have linked the 40 meter maximum velocity performance in a runner to success in events all the way out to the 10k.  Speed generally involves three components: acceleration, maximum speed and speed endurance.  It is generally thought that acceleration may be important to endurance events like the 800 meters, but it is not critical to the 5k.  Where the real speed emphasis should be in a cross country training plan is in the modalities of maximum speed and speed endurance. Maximum speed, (also known as absolute speed), is the greatest locomotive velocity attainable in an athlete. …

Calories as Energy Currency for Middle Distance Runners

The concept of calories in food is everywhere.  Visit any bookstore and the section of the building that contains books on dieting and calories is among the largest you will find.  It seems so simple: eat fewer calories then one uses each day and body weight will be lost.  Consume more calories then is used each day and body weight will be gained.  Calories are scientific units of measurement that are used both in energy intake and energy expenditure by animals.  But, what really are the calories importance to a middle distance runner and their training and racing?  The everyday use of the term calories is a means to indicate potential energy in the foods that are available for consumption.  In actuality, foods are measured…

Coordination as a Primary Physical Component in Cross Country Running

The first step in designing training programs for cross country runners is visualizing a clear understanding of the physical components needed for success.  Designing distance training schemes without a clear purpose in mind is an inefficient process at best, and at worst is a hodge-podge of this and that from impractical weight room exercises to countless miles of non-purposeful running.  The primary physical components that make up athletic activities of any sort include: speed, endurance, strength, flexibility, and coordination.  All of these components can be improved with well designed athletic training programs using a planned balance which places emphasis on more dramatic development of the most crucial component that characterizes each particular sport.  In cross country training, one of the most over-looked components is coordination. …

Do This When Middle Distance Performance Plateaus

What exactly is a performance plateau in middle distance running?  It is a temporary stagnation or slight decline in racing times or in key training markers.  When a plateau becomes evident to a runner it can be very discomforting and may lead to a questioning of the training, over-reaction to the situation, and even panic.  Rather than being a cause of concern it is important to realize that once a runner has been training for any period of time it is inevitable that they will hit a performance plateau.  In fact, if you have not witnessed this phenomenon, there may be something wrong with the training program. It is important to point out that a plateau in performance is not the same as overtraining.  Rather,…

Flexibility as a Primary Physical Component in Cross Country

There are five primary physical components that are targeted for improvement during physical training.  The degree of emphasis placed on each of the five components of strength, speed, flexibility, coordination, and endurance is sport specific.  All must be addressed for any athlete to improve performance capacity.  In cross country running, the component of endurance is by far the most targeted area of training with the other four to a lesser degree.  Flexibility improvement is sought by many cross country runners as a means for performance enhancement.  Current research has indicated that some areas of flexibility training are better than others in training endurance runners.  What are the modalities of flexibility training that cross country runners should be concerned with? The conventional definition of flexibility is…

Strength Training as a Primary Physical Component for Cross Country Runners

Strength is categorized as a primary physical component of the human body. The other primary physical components are speed, coordination, flexibility, and endurance. The aim of physical training is to improve the fitness of these five components in a balanced program to meet the specific demands of the sport. The role of a coach is to design and implement a program balance that improves the fitness of the individual primary physical components to the degree that is necessary for athletic success. Of the five primary physical components the one that is most stressed in cross country running is endurance.  Make no mistake about it the cross country coach needs to spend the great majority of training time addressing endurance.  Development of the other four components…

Age Appropriate Distance Training

One of the most important reminders for those coaches involved in training young distance and middle distance runners is they are not simply miniature adults. Not only are the bodies smaller, the mind less experienced, the systems of the body not at full development, but also training has far different effects and considerations as compared to adults. Success in distance running at any age requires high levels of energy system and muscular fitness, technical skills and motivation. For runners young and old, training to develop these qualities can be very demanding. Distance running can place extraordinary requirements on the young athlete’s body and mind. Understanding growth and development issues as well as the demands of aerobic and anaerobic training is crucial to training youngsters. Unfortunately,…

High School Cross Country Training: Positive Team Culture (Part 2)

As infants humans proceed through daily activities in an instinctual manner just like all of the other animal species on our planet. However, instinctual behavior beyond the age of 1 or 2 in humans becomes curiously rare. With the largest proportionally-sized brain in the animal kingdom, humans quickly move from instinct to learned behavior early in development. Adult humans mostly behave by analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating sensory input in the frontal cortex portion of the brain. Synthesis of thought is known to be much more advanced than instinctual trial and error behavior. The behavior of trial and error is controlled by the regions of the mid-brain which are highly developed in the rest of the animals but not in humans. This sort of high-level thinking…

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