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5k xc racing

Answered By Mick Grant & John Molvar

Question

Thank you for all the great advice you give us! I am a female, 14 year old athlete and will be starting high school next year. I ran XC in 7th and 8th grades (PR 3K 13:05) and have run in 5k races (PR 20:58). I am also on the track team and in 7th grade track, I ran the 800m (PR 2:36) and 1600m (PR 5:54) and did the long jump (PR 14"10'). In 8th grade track, my coach took me out of the 1600m and put me in the 400m (PR 1:03) instead. I am a fast sprinter and have been told that I have "fast" twitch muscles. My question is can an athlete be both fast in sprinting as well as distance and have both "fast" and "slow" twitch muscles? Also, what is the best way to improve endurance/lower lactic acid build-up in order to run a fast 5K in XC next year? Is it important to "fuel" up with energy drinks and also replenish after running 5K races?

Answer

You can be a very good runner in both the 400 and cross country. Good milers need good 400m speed, so it is important to develop speed and strength. Have fun with your training and gradually get stronger over time. Increasing your mileage will build your aerobic endurance base. It is important that you have fun and stay healthy. Your coach was smart to put you in the 400. I think it is important to run fast when you are young. It is very important to stay hydrated. Energy drinks have a place, but water is just as good most of the time, in my opinion. I don't think you should worry much about fueling up on energy drinks. Drinking water and eating a banana is just as good or better.