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HS cross country

Answered By Jeff Arbogast

Question

My daughter is a senior in high school and has ran cross country since 7th grade. She has always been a very good runner. She went to state her freshman and junior years of high school (missed out sophomore year due to tearing the growth plate in her knee). She has always been very consistent with her times. Last year she ran in the low 20s-high 19s with a PR of 19:26. This year she can't seem to get her times below 22 mins. She runs well, has no problem while running and recovers quickly. The only thing she complains about is her calves feeling heavy. She is 5'3" and 103 pounds. She has an athletic body and runs between 30-40 miles a week. She stretches, does warm ups and cool downs but can't seem to figure out what is going on. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Answer

The confusion here lies in our inability to find the reason for her lack or progress. The areas can be varied. Her physical stature would indicate no limitations, her training is within normal bounds, and her past performances would indicate good potential, so here is where I would start . . First, if she recovers quickly that would seem to rule out blood chemistry, but I would still test. Pay attention to serum ferritin levels and anything else the doctor might say that is out of normal parameters. Second, the type of workouts she is doing might preclude advancement. If she is running the same old paces, she'll race at the 'same old' times. Your email doesn't give too much background on that, but unless she is expanding her comfort zone (a typical problem), she won't get much faster. One possibility here . . . national studies are increasingly adamant on the importance of weightlifting for female endurance runners. In light of your comment on 'heavy calves', I am wondering if she should be working on this 2-3 times per week? We can send a basic schedule if you would like . . . Hope those options point in a positive direction! Train hard . . . have fun . . . Arb

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