You are about to start a training program that is probably different than what you are accustomed to using. It is not necessarily better than the one you are used to, but it is one that has proven very successful for our runners. To get the maximum benefit from this program, it is important that you follow it the way it is designed. I know that you are probably very excited about getting started with your collegiate running. However, it is important that you follow the program the way it is written. It is designed to gradually prepare you. If you follow it faithfully, you will come to school in August ready to race and, more importantly, ready for the type of training we will do during cross-country season. If you follow it the way it is written, you will also be less likely to suffer any injuries that could get in the way of a successful cross country season.

One of the features of this program that may be very different from what you are used to is that it is based on 4-day training cycles. We have had excellent success using 4-day training cycles during the summer training period. Four-day cycles allow us to have quality workouts and still build in plenty of recovery days. Typically, every 4th day in a four-day cycle is an OFF day from running. I know what you are probably thinking – I can get more training in if I don’t take off day every 4th day. You may be correct, but the question is whether or not you can get as much quality training in – and I think the answer is no. We stress quality of training over quantity of training and this means you will need more rest than you might get in some other programs. When you see an OFF day on your schedule, it means just that – OFF. That means no running on that day. However, if you want to do some alternate form of training such as biking, swimming, deep water running, etc. that is fine. You can still get in work that will help you develop cardiovascular fitness and still allow you to recover for the next quality workout.

A typical four-day cycle looks like this:

Day 1 Quality workout

Day 2 Quality workout

Day 3 Recovery workout

Day 4 OFF


The summer program is divided into several phases. Each phase has different training goals, which build upon those achieved in the previous phases. If you achieve the intended goals of each phase, it will be easier to reach the goals of the next phase. If you do not achieve the goals of a particular phase, it will be more difficult to achieve the goals of the next phase. As you go through the various phases, keep in mind the long-term goals we have – to win the Gulf South Conference Cross Country Championship and to compete for the NCAA Southeast Regional Championship and earn a trip to Nationals. This summer program is a key element in our attempt to meet these long-term goals.



Phase I

The goals of this phase are:

  1. to re-introduce your body to consistent training
  2. to prepare your ligaments, tendons and muscles for the work ahead

There are two major ideas to keep in mind during Phase I. The first is consistency

and the second is moderation. Consistency refers to regular training – trying to train on all days that are scheduled. Moderation means gradually increasing your workloads and not trying to do too much too soon. You have to be the judge of how gradually to increase your mileage and the speed of your runs. To achieve the maximum benefit from our program it is necessary to keep both consistency and moderation in mind.

One of the aspects of consistency I want you to keep in mind is that we are not stressing any specific paces for most of your training this summer. Don’t get hung up on what exact paces you are running for your training. Just go on effort. Whatever seems comfortable, medium or hard for you is OK. We will put the clock on you when school starts. With the exception of your 2-mile time trial (Day 33) and your 4-mile time trial (Day 57), you should just use your watch to tell you how many minutes you have run. At this stage of your training there is no real urgency about hitting any particular pace. You have to learn to read your body and use it as a pace guide instead of your watch anyway, so it is a good idea to start doing that as early as possible.

At the end of the summer, you should be able to look back at what you have done and say something like, " I really had a very solid, consistent period of training" or "I really accomplished a lot during this training period".


Day 1 20’-30’ at a comfortable, steady pace

Day 2 20’-30’ at a comfortable, steady pace

Day 3 20’-30’ at a comfortable., steady pace

Day 4 OFF

Day 5 25’-35’ at a comfortable, steady pace

Day 6 25’-35’ at a comfortable, steady pace

Day 7 25’-35’ at a comfortable, steady pace

Day 8 OFF

Day 9 30’-35’ at a comfortable, steady pace

Day 10 30’-35’ at a comfortable, steady pace

Day 11 30’-35’ at a comfortable, steady pace

Day 12 OFF



Day 13 15’ out at a comfortable pace and back in a little < 15’

Day 14 40’-45’ at a comfortable, steady pace

Day 15 30’-35’ at a comfortable, steady pace

Day 16 OFF

Day 17 18’ out at a comfortable pace and back in a little < 18’

Day 18 40’-45’ at a comfortable, steady pace

Day 19 30’-35’ at a comfortable, steady pace

Day 20 OFF

Day 21 20’ out at a comfortable pace and back in a little < 20’

Day 22 45" at a comfortable, steady pace

Day 23 30’-35’ at a comfortable, steady pace

Day 24 OFF


Phase II

The goals of this Phase are:

  1. to gradually increase the pace of your running
  2. to gradually introduce changing paces into your runs

Up to now you have pretty much been doing just steady paced running – with the

exception of the out and back runs on Days 13, 17 and 21. However, there will now be more frequent changes of pace within some of your runs. Cross-country running is characterized by frequent pace changes so it is important to get your body and your mind used to this tactic. Again, moderation and consistency are important. Don’t forget about them as you get into Phase II.

Day 25 20’ out at a comfortable pace and back in a little < 20’

Day 26 30’- 40’at a comfortable pace with 1’ pickups every 3’-4’

Day 27 30’-35’ at a comfortable, steady pace

Day 28 OFF

Day 29 10’ comfortable – 10’ medium – 10’ hard – 10’ comfortable

Day 30 5’ easy – 12 x 2 min medium/fast with 1’ easy recoveries – 5’ easy

Day 31 30’-35’ at a comfortable, steady pace

Day 32 OFF

Day 33 10’ easy - 2 mile time trial on grass/dirt if possible - 10’ easy

Day 34 30’-40’ at a comfortable pace with 1’ pickups every 3’-4’

Day 35 30’- 35’ at a comfortable, steady pace

Day 36 OFF

Day 37 23’ out at a comfortable pace and back in a little < 23’

Day 38 4 miles at a hard, steady pace

Day 39 35’-40’ at a comfortable, steady pace

Day 40 OFF


Phase III

The goals of this phase are:

  1. to introduce hill work into your training
  2. to introduce long interval work into your training

Day 41 2 x 1 mile at a hard pace with 3’ rest between each mile

Day 42 50’- 55’ at a steady pace

Day 43 40’ – 45’ at a comfortable, steady pace

Day 44 OFF

Day 45 10’easy – 10’ hard – 5’easy’ – 10’medium – 5’ easy – 5’ hard – 5’ easy

Day 46 hill repeats on a long, not too steep hill for 20’-30’

Day 47 40’-45’ at a comfortable, steady pace

Day 48 OFF

Day 49 10’ warm-up and run 6’ hard and jog 3’ easy repeating this 3 times

Day 50 50’-55’ at a comfortable, steady pace

Day 51 40’-45’ at a comfortable, steady pace

Day 52 OFF

Day 53 run 6 miles with #s 1, 3, 5 easy and #s 2, 4, 6 hard

Day 54 hill repeats on your long hill for 20’-30’ at a harder pace than Day 46

Day 55 40’-45’ at a comfortable, steady pace

Day 56 OFF

Day 57 4 mile time trial on dirt or grass if possible

Day 58 55’- 65’ at a comfortable, steady pace

Day 59 40’- 45’ at a comfortable, steady pace

Day 60 OFF

Depending on when you started your summer program, you may still have up to 2 weeks before school starts. We will have spoken on the phone by now and, if you have finished these 60 days of training, I will give you the next set of workouts. If you came close to finishing you are probably in good condition. If you haven’t come close to finishing, we may have to train you a little differently than those who come into the season in good condition. Just do your best and everything will turn out OK.





  1. On day 3 of each 4-day cycle, finish your easy run with 2 sets of 3 strides of about
  2. 150 meters, done at mile pace. Walk back to the start after each stride and take a couple of minutes rest after the first set of 3 strides, before you begin the second set. The object here is to simply maintain your track speed. The object is not to build endurance, so take lots of rest between each stride and between sets.

  3. After days 1, 2 and 3 do some type of abdominal strengthening work (crunches,
  4. sit-ups, leg lifts, medicine ball sit-ups etc.) Use as many different exercises as you know throughout the summer. Also, be sure to do pushups on these days too. Use your imagination and make up patterns to follow such as: 1-short rest-2 sr-3-sr-4-sr-5-sr-4-sr-3-sr-2-sr-1. Challenge yourself to get as good as you can get at doing pushups. Work on pull-ups if you have a bar available.


  5. You may be wondering about morning or second workouts during the summer. I would suggest that you not do any during Phase I. During Phase II you might try one morning workout each 4-day cycle, perhaps on Day 1 or Day 3. The key rule to remember is that if a second workout interferes with your ability to do the main workout of that day, then you shouldn’t do the second workout. If you start doing a second workout, keep it short to start with (no more than 15’-20’ in length). We will be doing two workouts a day once school starts (including pool work) so it may help to get used to it a little. It’s also OK to do alternate training (such as biking, pool running etc.) as a second workout. Just remember, those if it interferes with your main workout, don’t do it.
  6. It gets HOT during the summer. Heat interferes with the ability to do quality training. I strongly suggest that you do your main training workout in the morning if it is very early in the morning. It is typically 20 degrees (or more) cooler in the AM than it is in the evening. Remember that our system is based on quality of training as opposed to quantity. So, anything you can do to enhance your chances of training with high quality is worthwhile. Also, if you are going to be working during the day, it is again better to do your training before you work. Work may tire you out enough that it interferes with the quality of your training. So try to get the training done before you get too tired.
  7. PLEASE make sure that you take the time to hydrate yourself well during the upcoming summer. It will have a HUGE effect on your training if you don’t. Force yourself, if you have to, to take in enough fluids. Multiply your weight by .67. That number is the minimum number of ounces of water you should take in each day during your summer training. So, if you weigh 120 lbs. you would take in 120 x .67 (80) ounces of water each day. Make this a habit. Spread your fluid intake out throughout the day. It will make a big difference in your running.

  9. Develop the habit (if you haven’t already) of stretching for 10’-15’ at the end of every training session. We will stress this a lot when school starts, so it will be good to develop this habit early. Use the stretches you already know, emphasizing your quads, calves, and Achilles tendons.
  10. What about road races during the summer? Can I do some? Should I do some? My answer to that is it depends. Remember that our goal is to be ready to race well in late October and early November. So, any times you run in the summer don’t really matter. If you are the kind of runner who gets sad or mad or down if you don’t run a "fast" time, I would say don’t run races. If you want to use a race as part of a workout, that seems OK. If you can run a race and not wear a watch or not look at the finish clock, good for you. Your times just don’t matter at this time of the year. The training you are doing during the summer is not designed to have you running really fast races. You probably won’t run really fast times. Don’t expect to. You will run fast in October and November. If you just have to run races, try them at the end or the very beginning of a training phase. Also, try to do a race on the first day of a four-day training cycle. That way you will have a rest day before you race.
  11. If for some reason you miss a scheduled day of training, handle it this way: If you miss the first or second day of a four day cycle, do it the next day and then continue on with the next scheduled session the following day. For example, if you miss Day 1, do it the next day and then continue on with Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4. If you miss Day 2, do it the next day and then do Day 3 and Day 4 the following two days. If you miss the third day of a 4-day cycle, use it as your OFF day and on the next day, do the recovery run you missed on Day 3.
  12. Even though hill repeats begin in Phase III, incorporate courses with hills into our runs starting early, in Phase I. Every time you run a course with hills, you are developing running strength. Hills are the best form of strength training for runners. Use them in your runs as often as you can.



















I think it is important to realize the difference between stretching and warming-up. Stretching refers to lengthening of muscles, most often through what is called passive stretching. Passive stretching is what most of us have done when we sit and reach for our toes or any of the many stretches with which we are all familiar. The purpose of this type of stretching is to move the body toward a relaxed, restful state. Warming up, on the other hand, refers to a complex group of activities designed to prepare the total body for intense physical activity, such as racing or training. In order for the body to function optimally in racing or training, it must be prepared for the intense activity that will follow. Simple passive stretching does not adequately prepare the body for intense activity. It simply lengthens the muscles that are stretched and relaxes the body’s various systems.

Our theory of warm-up is to prepare the total body – the muscles, the nervous system, the cardiovascular system and the orthopedic systems (the joints) – for the activity that is to follow. Warm-up proceeds from a general to a more specific form, specific meaning more like the actual activity that is to follow (racing or training). This means that the warm-up activities get more and more similar to the actual event as the warm-up continues. Our warm-up procedure is as follows:

  1. An easy 7’-10’ jog to raise body temperature and make the tendons, ligaments and muscles more elastic and easier to stretch. Any passive stretches you wish to do.
  2. A set of mobility exercises designed to increase the range of motion of the various joints in the body. The intensity of these activities is a bit greater than that of the initial 7’-10’ jog and stretches and is more similar to that of the event which is to follow. Also, the more active parts of the mobility exercises also more closely model the movements the body will have to make during the race or training.
  3. A final 10’-15’ run, which gets faster and faster as the run goes on. The last 5’ of the run should be at a pace that is close to that at which you will race or train. The object of this second run is to raise the heart rate to a level which approaches that which the runner will experience during the race or training run. Notice how this part of the warm-up is more similar to the actual event than the previous two parts.
  4. Some strides shortly before the race or training run. These strides should be at or even a bit faster than the pace at which you hope to run. Again, the activity is more similar to the actual event than the preceding activities.
  5. After the race or training run is completed, a cool down run of at least 10’ should be taken. At this time, after the cool down run, it is appropriate to do the traditional passive stretching. The purpose of stretching at this point is twofold: (1) to lengthen the muscles, which have been shortened during the race or training and (2) to return the body to a rested, relaxed state which existed before the competition. Post race or post-training passive stretching should be of at least 10’-15’ duration.


Keeping the above information in mind, it makes sense for you to begin to try our system of warming-up as you get into your summer training. Use this warm-up system before Day 1 and Day 2 of each 4-day cycle. Day 3 is an easy, recovery day and the activity will not be as intense, so the body doesn’t have to be prepared as vigorously. On Day 3 the regular warm-up, omitting the second run of 10’-15’, would be sufficient. On Day 4 it would be appropriate to do passive stretching, even if you don’t run.

Read the material on Mobility Training "A" and make sure you understand it. If you have any questions, please call me and get them answered. Mobility training is important for a couple of reasons. For example, if you can increase the range of motion in your hip joints enough to increase your stride by just 1" you can improve your time significantly in any middle distance or distance race. Also, by having a standardized warm-up that you know by heart, you will have something to concentrate on before your races. This can be a big help in keeping any nervousness to a minimum.





























It is never a problem for a runner to be strong. If everything else is equal, the stronger runner will be the better runner. Stronger runners are less likely to get injured and, therefore, will miss less training. Stronger runners will be able to be more economical in their running and, therefore, will be able to run longer at a given pace or run at a faster pace. Stronger runners will also be better able to deal with the collisions, both intentional and unintentional, that occur in racing. So, it is to your benefit to be as strong as you can.

Potential problems arise when runners work on increasing their strength. If care is not exercised, muscular hypertrophy can develop to a level that interferes with economy in running. There comes a point past which gains in strength yield smaller gains in performance because of the added weight of increased muscle mass. As a result, I encourage first year runners to work on increasing strength, employing exercises that use their own body weight, instead of barbells/dumbbells/machines. If a runner cannot handle his/her own body weight with simple exercises, they need "functional" strength more than anything else. There will be time later to move onto weight training.

So you should feel free to do as many pushups and pull-ups as you can during the summer. Do them in as many different ways as you can, using sets, pyramids, etc. Do the same with abdominal exercises. Crunches, sit-ups, medicine ball work etc. are all great. You CANNOT be too strong throughout the core section of your body. If you do lots of abdominal work, be sure to also do exercises to strengthen your lower back. The runners who have already been in our program will be doing this type of strength work almost daily during the summer, especially abdominal strengthening exercises. It is also a good time for you to begin developing this as part of your daily training ritual.

Study the CORE EXERCISES very carefully and begin doing those on a regular basis. They have really helped our runners in the past and I am confident the will also help you. Once again, this is the type of exercise that you cannot do too much! The strongest legs in the world are wasted if a runner’s trunk is too weak. So work on it.