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How to train for college cross country?

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Posts: 17
11/22/12 9:46 P

I'll begin by agreeing with the previous recommendation that you speak with the coach. He or she is the subject matter expert on training for cross-country.

As a former high school and college cross-country runner, I suspect that the coach will recommend you begin by establishing a solid base of being able to run five to six miles at a comfortable pace. As you get closer to the start of the season, you'll want to throw in speed workouts including intervals, fartlek and tempo runs. Some of the speed workouts should be done on grass and trails. I wish you well.

Posts: 13,641
11/22/12 8:16 P

I agree with Jen - a Couch to 5K program is definitely the best way into running.

There are also 10K programs available.

By following these programs, you should be comfortably running 10K by next Spring, much less Fall.

Check out the Spark article Strength Training Workouts for Runners at

When starting out, definitely place the emphasis on endurance rather than speed, especially until you are running 5K comfortably. Generally it is difficult to work on speed and endurance simultaneously. Although occasional speed work can help build your fitness, I would probably not put a lot of emphasis on speed until you were running 10K.


Posts: 2,349
11/22/12 7:39 P

This is just a note to encourage you. I started cross country running in 1972 as a sophomore in high school. At that time, our races were 2 1/2 miles. I had a baby during my sophomore year of college, so I worked out with the cross country and track teams, but never participated in events. But I never quit running! I am now 55 years old and am slower, but still get out there and run.

The suggestion of couch to 5 K program sounds like a reasonable starting place if you have never run before. I started with the team, who got me going up to three miles. Later, during college, I ran half marathons with fun, community runs, but never competitively.
Get going, and have fun with it!

Posts: 2,707
11/22/12 4:18 P

Have you ever run? At all? Perhaps start with a couch to 5k program. Find out how far a college cross country course is. I don't think it's a marathon. I think high school is 5k, at least around here, so I'd guess if its more than 5k, its probably only 10k, but I could easily be wrong. You may also want t contact the coach and get suggestions. (S)he coud also tell you exactly what they require to run with the team.

Edited by: JENMC14 at: 11/23/2012 (09:29)

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Posts: 1
11/22/12 1:18 P

I'm a female freshman and really want to do cross country next year. I never did cross country before or trained for a marathon but i really want to do it by next fall.
Do I have enough time to train to make the team?
What workouts should I do running, weights, other exercise?
Like what would be a good training schedule to start out on? Is it better to focus on speed than distance/ endurance?

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