Hi Coach Phil,
When should I start my summer training for cross country and how much should I train?
One of the best rules in life is to never peak early! That applies to running as well as looking at the presents Martin and Karen get you for Christmas. Peaking early has a nasty way of ruining the surprise you've been building up to. What surprise you ask? Well the surprise of how much success you'll have running and also the new iPhone they got you (PS: this is the last new one if you keep dropping it and cracking the screen)!
Early peaking, in running at least, can be caused by many things. With cross country especially there's a greater chance of that happening. There's such a large build-up to the season as most teams start very close to the school year ending. With such a lengthy base-building period, a lot of runners fall into one of three categories: over-trained, under-trained or perfectly trained. Obviously we want to shoot for the perfectly trained but that is a very precise, fine line. Under-training and over-training are much easier to achieve.
Under-training for cross country is pretty easy to do. With months before the season actually gets underway it’s easy to say to yourself, "I've got plenty of time, I don't need to start training yet!" Coming into the season like that is going to take your body from zero to 60 in almost no time and you'll only be able to handle that type of training load for a short time.
On the other hand, over-training can be another pitfall before the season starts. "I ran well last year so clearly doing more is just better"...Ha ha not quite Leah! Doing more than your body can handle will burn you out very quickly so by the time the first month of the season has wrapped up your body is at its limits and you'll start to decline.
"Don't do either." Team Captain Obvious would say and I'd agree with the captain. Trust your coach's plan and follow it to a T. Make sure you're allowing yourself adequate rest, nutrition, stretching, massaging and wearing well-cushioned shoes. Most of all do YOUR best!
Good luck and don't get stung by an early peak.