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XC season mileage

Answered By Jeff Arbogast


Basically, I am 18 years old and last season I was running approx. 30-35 miles a week regularly throughout the year. I ran tremendously well, finishing 32nd in the U20 UK XC Champs. However this year I am averaging between 44-49 miles a week on average since the start of the XC season (October). My question is: What mileage should I be doing at my age and how should I be running those miles to get the most out of them? Also, what is the best pre-race meal to eat to give me the most energy?


You are talented and attempting to break through to the next level, something you are sure to do. The quality of your mileage is almost as important as the quality, but racing 10k at your age over challenging courses just might require a step 'up' in weekly (microcycle) mileage. To truly achieve the best you can do, look at your mileage as a 'year-plan' objective. The mileage during the season should actually be lower than most other times (provided you are not also running track & field events). Start each year in your 'summer' macrocycle (3 month) period. This should be your season with the greatest mileage and most intensive 'resistance' work (hills, sand. etc.). At your age and talent, progressing to 65-75 miles at this time is correct. During the season, cut this back as racing becomes the focus. In-Season mileage should be about where you have it now, or perhaps even a bit less (40 mpw). When the season ends, consider T & F distance events to build your speed. The whole objective is to take indoor and/or outdoor T & F speed to the next summer's distance base (thereby running it faster than the year before) and progressing like the Africans. The problem we have in the West is thinking of our training as just one season . . .think of it as years that build upon one another with continued speed and strength improvements, all in sequence. In November - May, work on turnover, sprint speed, and surging. Then, carry that into your summer training for the new year. Train hard . . . have fun . . Arb