CROSS-COUNTRY STARTS TOMORROW
Ed Poirier, Coach
Dear Coach Ed,
I was recently asked to assume the head cross-country coaching position for a local parochial school, about 20+ runners, male/female, grades 5-8.
I'm a competitive marathoner (won Grand Rapids '04, 2nd overall in St. Louis '05), but know enough that I can't expect kids to put in anything close to what I do in terms of training design (long, easy, tempo, track each week), so where does one start? First practice is tomorrow.
For right now get kids excited about running. Tell them in XC no one will get cut from the team. Tell them they may not be able to run 1 mile at first but if they stick to it it will come. Let the athletes who have to walk and run to do the distance do so and eventually they will be able to run the whole distance. Encourage those kids who are having difficulty. Get your fast and experienced runners to help those who are having a tougher time of it. So start by showing an interest in the kids regardless of their abilities. Keep practice fun and exciting. Let your joy for athletics show through and the kids will pick up on it. Relax, enjoy the kids, and do what you instinctively know how to do. It's easy Erik, they are kids and they are looking up to you for inspiration.
1st practice: Stretch, easy 4 minute run, a few easy high step drills, then an easy one mile run. See who can do it. See who can't. You may want to run repeats of 30 seconds fast with with a 2 minute slow jog for a mile after that. Stretch again and call it a day for the novice runners. For the experienced athletes let them go for a 2 mile run while you are cooling down and stretching with your inexperienced group. That could last for a week by then your inexperienced athletes will be able to run the distances (at a slower pace of course). For your training you can do a million variations on the 2 minutes easy 30 seconds fast repeats all they way up to 3 minutes fast and 2 minutes easy. Just keep throwing in variations of fast and easy running. I hope that helps.
Send your questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ed Poirier, "Coach Ed", recently was invited by the United States Olympic committee to attend a workshop and training seminar at the Olympic training center in California.