For the Middle Schooler: OK, it IS time to run

Updated: Aug 1, 2020

It is July 15th and your practices start in August. What do you do? I suggest you start running. The idea of this blog is that you are capable of getting yourself to a healthy 4 miles by the first day of practice and you want it to be interesting. Choose 2 or 3 from these five workouts, move them around each week to fit your schedule and you should arrive in good shape for your Middle School coach to be impressed. You can do all five in a week, just lower your intensity on a few of them.

Try to find grass or trails to run on, your school grounds are fine and a track is fine. Parks are good too, and if you know of baseball or softball fields that are laid back and open to the public, you can use the perimeter of those when there are no games or practices.

Also easy pace is at about 145 -155 heart beats/min, workout pace is about 155-170 beats per minute and hard pace is 170-185. These are estimates and are based on an average 8th grader. But it is a good guide. You can get an idea of your heart rate by --after you stop running for a few seconds, find your pulse at your neck, count it for 6 seconds and add a zero (i.e. multiply by 10). This is a very basic way to do this, you may have a monitor on your watch or other way. But for preseason of Middle School this is fine. I also say- easy pace is a little harder than conversational pace, workout pace you can ask a quick question or say your name, hard pace is you are too busy breathing to talk.

All workouts assume a warm up of at least 800m at very easy to easy pace and no more than 1 mile (1600m). And a warm down of 1 mile (1600 m) to up to 3 miles (5,000m) easy.

1) 5 x 60 seconds hard with 60 seconds rest (walking). This will get you used to running hard and breathing hard and knowing where your limits are and are not!

2) Ladder with each interval at workout pace with 60 seconds of easy jog in between each interval. Try very hard not to walk between intervals, if you are, you are running the interval at too high an intensity. 45sec-60 sec-75 sec-75 sec-60sec-45sec. So to do this, after your warm up,start with a quick paced 45 second run, jog 45 seconds, then go into a 60 second quick paced run, jog 45 seconds- and so on.

3) 600m, oh how we love you. Find a place and measure about 600m. It does not need to be exact, if you are on a track it is one and a half times around. 4 x 600 at the upper workout pace. This will feel easy at first then as you get into the 300m mark you will start to feel fatigued. Try to learn to maintain an even pace, so don’t go out too hard. The point of this is to learn pace, as well as strengthen legs and minds. Rest for 3 minutes in between each. Note if you can, keep them all about the same time.

4) 2 x 800m hard. Find a place where you have a good idea of about 800m (twice around a track) and, very much like the 600m workout, try to get an even pace and work hard. You should take at least 5 minutes between the two 800s and up to 7 minutes. Stretch in between, grab some water, try to recover completely so you can have two very quality runs.

5) Fartlecks. On a long run, do 45 second pick ups. So your long run is at easy pace, your pick ups are at workout pace. For every mile you are running, do 3 x 45 second pick ups. Try not to sacrifice your easy run pace. Easy run does not mean as slow as you can go, it means a relaxed pace where you can talk but probably not sing loudly.

OK if you use these 5 workouts and add a few long runs of up to 4 miles at easy pace, you will be in great shape walking into your first practice be it in 2,3 or 4 weeks away.

Note: on the warm up and warm down, do what you can. Do not feel like you must do 3 miles to warm down or the full 1 mile warm up. Your body may not be ready for that yet. These workouts will help you get into shape quicker than just going out and running miles upon miles as you may have been doing in June and some of July. Remember your race is only 2 miles, at least in Ohio. If you enjoy the long run do what works for you, but do not get hurt by overdoing it preseason.

If you feel extremely sore after the first few of these, lower your intensity and build up to the strength you need. This is what these are intended for. At practice you may be asked to do workouts just like these but to increase intensity. You will be ready! And if you aren’t, you will get there. You are in Middle School, you have time to learn about running, to help your body get used to the sport and to set yourself up for many years of great competition and enjoyable running ahead of you. Be kind to your Middle School self, listen to your body.

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