Join Me For Cross Country Practice – Virtually

Are you a runner? Do you want to work hard? Do you want a tough workout that will build your endurance, speed, stamina, and strength? Would you like some heat training too? Then join me for Cross Country Practice – Virtually. Practice starts at 5:30. AM. On time or give me 50 pushups.

When I went to bed last night, I was setting up my alarm (on my ipad so I can see the temperature and tweet all in one place), I was inspired to comment:

So I didn’t have high expectations for the morning. It was 90 degrees at practice time, slightly less humid than the day before, but nowhere near pleasant.

I should insert a note here that, in case you didn’t guess, running cross country in the desert is tough. It is hot while we’re running now, but because the team will be expected to compete in temperatures over 105, very soon we will be adding some afternoon workouts to the mix. In order to compete they need some adaptation (as much as is possible) before the meets start. (I always like to make note that, when the temperature is 105, it is measured in the shade. We run in the sun.)

Practice Starts

First up, warm up on the track, one mile (four times around). About 10 minutes by the time the last runner gets in.

Dynamic warm up/stretch: Drills. High knees skips, butt kicks, cariocas, quick feet. This takes about 10 minutes.


Next up, a quick stretch of the main running muscles, calves, quads, hamstrings. I try to cut this out and save the stretch until the end of practice, but the runners insist that they feel better when they stretch before the run. So, I let them, but we keep it brief. Five minutes (they’ll take 10 if I’m not paying attention).

Now for the meat of the practice. Today’s run is a six mile lactate threshold run. The team will be out on the road for this workout. When I say road, I really mean road because this first few weeks of practice, with the exception of Saturdays, we meet at the school, which is surrounded by concrete for miles. Next month we’re moving to the hills and trails, which is vital for cross country training.

For today’s run, we will warm up for about a mile. For this first mile, the team should stay in a pack. Pack running is very important and beneficial for cross country runners, and this is a good time to practice. Some days the team will run as a pack throughout the workout. Today, though, they will just stick together for the warm up.

After the warm up, we pick up the pace for the next half mile. The purpose of a lactate threshold or tempo run is to increase your stamina, your ability to run fast for a longer period of time. Your lactate threshold is the point at which your body has built up enough lactic acid and responds by needing to slow down or rest. This interval should be run at about your 10k pace. This corresponds to about 20 seconds per mile slower than your 5k pace, or at 85-90% of your maximal heart rate.

If you are joining us today for this virtual run, you are lucky. Although it is a hard workout, it is also at the beginning of practice season. Therefore, you get a half mile to rest. This half mile should be run at a moderate pace, though, not simply walking or jogging. It is another good time to practice the pack run. If you continue to run virtually with us, you will notice that the intervals get longer while the recovery gets shorter.

That’s the workout. Well, you need to repeat it four more times. That will leave about a half mile to jog back to your starting point. Then take a lap around the track. This part of the workout will take 45 minutes to an hour, depending on your speed.

But wait, there’s more.

Let’s line up on the track for some strength circuits. We know you’re tired (it’s warmer outside now, too), so we’ll keep it simple.

Air Squats

Push Ups to Side Planks

Split Squat Jumps

Mountain Climbers

Run across the football field (fast), touch the sideline, run back

45 seconds each, repeat 4 times.

At about five minutes each circuit, this will take about 20 minutes.

And finally, we will spend about 10-15 minutes stretching those tired muscles. Circle up! Total workout time: about two hours.  We do this (or variations) six days a week.

So, join us, virtually speaking. You’re going to love it! As for me? While I skipped the drills, strength (I did my own later), and missed out on the long stretch, I did run the tempo run with the team. I’m happy to report I was able to keep up with most of the girls (that won’t happen in a few weeks when they are in better shape). It’s nice when I can keep up because I can whip inspire the girls to run hard.

Palm Desert High School Cross Country Team (2011)
Go Aztecs!

Want more? Check out this to see the team perform the burpee/core challenge. It won’t make you run faster, but it will make you laugh.

What is your favorite workout? What workout kicks your butt? Tell me, I’ll use it on my cross country team!

 photo Signature_zps65e035a8.png

Need a coach to help you reach your running goals?

LogoI am an RRCA certified running coach and I also hold a Level One USATF certification. I have more than 12 years experience coaching runners of all ages and levels. More information...


  1. says

    This is a great workout you have going on. It made me tired reading it. One of the exercises that always helps me on track days is 100m high knees/fast 100m high kness/slow for 800m. I do it on the days I do 4/200’s and 4’400’s. It really hepls with my form and getting my knees higher for a longer stride. I hope this helps:)
    Larisa Dixon recently posted…WIAW, a new challenge, and a giveaway I want to win:)My Profile


  1. […] Join Me For Cross Country Practice – Virtually – I never ran cross country in high school but I would have loved to have Debbie as a coach. She means business! […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge