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Hi I want to know how to improve my time in a race. My first 5k race I got 24:21 in a road race and I'm interested because I'm going to do XC my freshman year and I only did outdoor track in middle school 800 ( 2:52) and mile (6:47). I don't really know how to pace myself in a long race and unlike outdoor track I know XC has some up hills and down hills. I'm don't know how to work around unknown areas. I'm training for the summer, but I don't have any schedule mileage how much mileage should I do and should I base the training on long distance or a set pace? I want to have a plan that allows me to have a strong kick at the end. Should I time myself while I run? Please help! I would really appreciate for some advice. Thank ou, Molly
Cross country is an awesome sport so I'm glad to hear that you are going out for your high school team! For training this summer, I would concentrate on gaining some strength and increasing your endurance. I am not sure what your mileage was during the track season, but a good goal would be at least 20 miles a week. If you are already doing that, you are well on your way to a great season! If you haven't hit that mileage yet you still have a lot of time to build up a great base! Work up to 20 miles a week slowly. Only increase your mileage by 10% a week. I would recommend that you do 2 workouts each week. One should be a tempo run. For these runs, you should run just hard enough that you would have difficulty having a conversation. At the beginning, this might only be a mile, but as you gain strength you will be able to run farther at this pace. By the end of the summer, try to make these workouts at least 5k. The second workout of the week should be a fartlek. Fartleks resemble interval workouts, but they can be more flexible. You could run hard for 2 minutes and then run easy for 2 minutes and repeat until you have run 20 minutes total. Or you could run run hard for one block in your neighborhood, easy for the next block, hard for the next block, easy for the next block, and so on. If you are running in a hilly area, you could race up the hills and then coast down the other side. Fartlek means "speed play" in Swedish so you should approach these workouts as a fun way to test yourself. For both of these workouts, remember to warm up and cool down. Your body will thank you! On non-workout days, run a few miles at a pace that will allow your body to recover. My college coach said these days should be "CCP." This stood for chit chat pace. Run at a pace that you would allow you to have a chat with another person. If your body is feeling tired from the training, don't be afraid to go for a swim, rollerblade, or bike. Other forms of exercise will still prepare you for a great cross country season.