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Growth and Development Issues in Distance Runners

Most cross country coaches’ work with athletes that have not yet reached absolute physical maturity and awareness of growth and development issues in their distance runners.  Many of these same coaches have teams with both boys and girls on them, which raises the concern of different rates of development.  Even coaches that have a program of one gender, grades nine through twelve, have athletes that are scattered on a continuum of physical growth and maturity and must deal with issues surrounding this fact on a daily basis.  Growth and development issues in cross country begin with the basic indicators of height and weight as these two variables are the most useful in examining rates of change and are controlled by the genome signaling of chemical…

Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment of Running Injuries in the Middle Distance Athlete

Running injuries of the leg and lower back are the most common types of acute or chronic ailments found in distance runners.  Aches and pains are common in runners training in excess of 15 miles per week, but these transition to injuries when the ailment is severe enough to reduce the number of miles run over the course of at least one week and/or cause the runner to take medication or see a health care professional. Most running injuries are musculo-skeletal overuse syndromes related to cumulative stress and strain of the legs.  All of the common injuries have noticeable symptoms, related causes, and training characteristics as to what to try/avoid and how to treat the injury from a training perspective.  An observant coach will take…

Proper Posture in Distance Running

When trying to make cross country runners faster there are no more important variables than proper posture and the characteristics of foot contact on each stride cycle.  Foot contact times vary with pace in running.  Slow paces show longer foot contact patterns, and increases in velocity show consistent decreases in contact times (Figure 1).     Foot contact patterns also vary with pace. Slow paces show full footed contacts initiating in the heel. Increases in running velocity show consistent changes in contact patterns, with contact occurring closer to the fore-foot (Table 1).     The amplitudes of running movement observed in distance running paces, particularly at the hip joint, vary with velocity, however the degree of hip extension observed remains fairly consistent at all paces….

The Four Stages of Team Development

The start of a cross country (or track and field) season brings plenty of excitement for both athletes and coaches.  The anticipation of all of the adventures that are about to occur is what makes activities such as this so much fun.  Even teams that practice all summer seem to shift their level of anticipation as the official date of the cross country season approaches. Successful cross country running needs both individualized training plans for the athletes and an overall organizational plan for the team.  Both plans need to be structured with as much quantitative, measurable focus as possible.  The plan for the team should revolve around where the squad is today and where it should be at the end of the season if the…

CTF Holiday Sale

                Our ’12 Days of CTF Holiday Sale’ will begin on Monday, December 12 and will run through Friday, December 23. Here’s how it works: From MONDAY 12/12- FRIDAY 12/23, every Complete Track and Field program is on sale for 20% off when you use coupon code: 12DAYSCTF. HOWEVER: Each day of the 12-day sale we will be featuring a specific program where you can save 30% on this season’s popular programs BUT ONLY ON THAT DAY. This time of the year can get hectic, so I recommend bookmarking this page and scheduling a reminder in your phone so you don’t forget to come to the site to grab these holiday offers. In the meantime, you can plan…

Common Injuries in Distance Runners

Running injuries can be defined in numerous ways and their treatment suffers from the lack of a consistent set of defining parameters.  The scientific literature variously defines a running injury to have occurred when it is severe enough to reduce the volume of miles run and cause the runner to take a medication or see a health care professional.  Others define a running injury as an incidence that hampers training for at least one week.  When the literature is examined to determine the incidence of running injuries (in studies of 500 or more participants) the yearly incidence rate ranges from 37% to 56%.  Despite the relatively high incidence rate of running injuries per runner per year, this incidence rate is still 2 to 6 times…

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…

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