Hopefully, someone with some really good advice will emerge from rec.running
and help you with your situation. I know you have turned to this newsgroup
with the thought that this might be a good resource. If you are unfamiliar
with the way things work around here, I need to tell you to expect one or two
smart aleck comments along with the good advice. Please don't let that
discourage you. I hope you get the help you need and that you can use it to
improve your times.
>Hi, I'm 16 and on a high school cross country team and I have been for the
>past two years. Last year I was running a three mile race at around 21 min.
>This year, however, I have consistantly run 23:50 every race and time check.
>It is early in the season, but these times have really been bad. I don't
>feel as though I am running, I'm just jogging in a race. I am training every
>day and when the coach says to run six miles, or three, I run them fairly
>well but I do not improve when a race comes. Does anyone have any advice
>how to improve? Thank you.
From my own limited perspective, I would recommend doing more track work to
improve you 3 mile time. If your training only consists of 3 - 6 mile runs,
then you're not training for top-end speed. Try doing some 400 meter to 1600
meter track intervals at 6 to 7 minute per mile pace. This should help quite a
R. Walter, CA
Hang in there, you could just be trying hard.
Let us know how you do!! Please.
Have your mentioned this to your parents?
Have you discussed your frustrations with your coach? This should be your
first move, and probably the only one that matters. You should be cautious
about adding work to your training unless your coach knows about it, because
you could become overtrained.
Have you changed coaches or training programs? If you didn't do the same or
increased training, you might have stagnated because the lack of quality in
Did you have a summer running program? Sometimes HS runners will try real hard
to get ready for the season, with a lot more mileage and become overtrained and
peak in the first race of the season. Others will not do any work and start
the season out of shape. Either of these could explain your position.
It's difficult to recommend changes without knowing the background, and one
should not normally mess with a coach's program without knowing all the
details. One thing you might consider, though, is to push harder on the hard
days, and take the easy days easier (without adding more running or different
"Speed Kills...It kills those that don't have it!" --US Olympic Track Coach
The most important question is what did you do all summer? DId you run or
at least stay active? You can train hard all season but if you didn't do
your homework over the summer you could very well get slower. The biggest
thing you can do in high school to put yourself at an advantage over 90% of
the other runners is keep running in the off-season.
It does take patience. To repeat what has been said:
Take breaks every other day, an easy week once a month, an easy month 3 or 4
times a year, etc., to let your body recover. Push yourself occasionally when
you feel good and then back off for a day or two.
Running up hills can make a difference. Increases in pace, especially on a soft
surface: treadmill, sandy beach, trail, grassy field. Vary the length of your
runs. E.g., instead of running 6 miles each time out, alternate between 4 miles
and 8 miles on the next two runs. Do the longer runs on a soft surface if
Do a longer run each week and do a faster, shorter session each week. Do this
for 3 weeks each month. Or, make up your own schedule to stress and recover.
Experiment with short pickups in pace on a measured course, track or treadmill,
no more than once a week. Results guaranteed.
Measurement helps me improve. For example, if you are timing yourself on a
treadmill, you can increment your pace for a given length session in steps of .1
mph. If you increment once a week skipping one increment per month, you gain 1.
0 mph in 3 months.
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Then one day I ran a race in an angry mood. I was angry with
myself for doing so poorly in the previous races. It was
a competition against the worst team in the league, so the
coach withheld the top 4 runners on our team from the race.
My anger towards myself became anger towards everyone else
in the race. I started at the front and refused to allow
anyone to pass me. I won the race and my time dropped almost
a full minute over the 2.6 mile course.
This experience immediately taught me the that getting a good
performance during a race is just as much mental as physical.
If, when at the finish of a race, you're not about ready to
collapse and fall down, you didn't give it your best effort,
which is a mental problem. If you feel "ok" at the end of
the race, once again, you didn't give it your best effort.
If you can talk, joke, laugh, smile... within five minutes
of the end of the race, you didn't give it your best effort.
The last half mile/800 meters should be pure torture, if not,
you didn't give it your best effort.
Get the picture? Running your best in a race is about mental
ability as much as physical ability. Now go for it!!!