Hal Higdon: Cross-Country Program

Average Weekly Training Hours 04:27
Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Training Hours 04:27
Training Load By Week

Hal Higdon: Cross Country Training Program: This Cross Country Training Program originally was designed for high school runners to use during the summer. But it also works for adult runners at other times of the year. The program provides ten weeks of training, enough to bridge gaps between more traditional programs for marathons and half marthons. You can use this program as a matrix to organize your training even though not pointed at a specific race. Each day, you will receive emails telling you how to run and offering tips about training. For more information on how to use this program, check the attached Training Plan description file or visit my website: halhigdon.com.

Sample Day 1
0:30:00
4.2mi
Custom

Welcome to my Summer Cross Country Training Program. Let's start by doing a 30-minute tempo run. Begin to run at an easy pace, about as fast as you would during any warm-up for a race. After 5 or 10 minutes of easy running, gradually accelerate toward a peak speed halfway through the workout, holding that peak for 5 or 10 minutes at most, then gradually decelerate, finishing off with about 5 minutes of easy running.

Sample Day 2
0:56:00
8mi

Interval workout: 10 x 400 meters, 400 meters jogging between. Warm up by jogging a mile or two, then stretch. Pick a pace in this first week that you can handle easily. I suggest the same pace that you would run 3200 meters in a track race. If you finish this workout running slower times than when you started, you obviously picked too ambitious a pace. Complete the workout by jogging a mile.

Sample Day 3
0:30:00
4.2mi

Run 30 minutes easy. Please note the mileage estimates. They are based on my assumption that you will average 7:00 miles in most of your workouts. If you run faster or slower, your mileage totals may be somewhat different.

Sample Day 4
0:30:00
4.2mi

Today do a 30-minute fartlek run. After 5 or 10 minutes of easy running at the start, you pick up the pace and sprint for maybe 10 or 20 or more seconds, then jog or even walk for a near equal time until partly recovered, then sprint again. These speed bursts could be anywhere from 100 to 400 meters, or longer. They could be up a hill or down a hill or on the flat. They could be at top speed or at the pace you might run a 5,000 meter race or from this tree to that tree.

Sample Day 5
0:30:00
4.2mi

Run an easy 30 minutes. you can’t run hard seven days a week without risking injury or overtraining. You need days of comparative rest between the hard workouts, otherwise you will not be able to run them at full speed. If you fail to do the hard workouts properly, you will not improve. Don’t train hard every day assuming that it will make you a better runner

Sample Day 6
1:00:00
8.5mi

Do a long run of 60 minutes. Many adult runners training for races between 5-K and the marathon do their long runs on the roads. But you won't be racing on the roads; you'll be racing on soft surfaces. It may be more convenient for you to do your long runs on the roads, but trails may be your best surface alternative.

Sample Day 7
0:30:00
4.2mi

Today you have two choices: Run easy for 30 minutes or take the day off. In many if not all states, coaches are not permitted to supervise their runners on Sundays. This is a wise rule. Too much running can cause you to break down.

Hal Higdon
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Hal Higdon is a Contributing Editor for Runner's World, that magazine's longest lasting writer, Hal's having contributed an article to RW's second issue in 1966. He also is the author of more than three dozen books, including Marathon: The Utimate Training Guide and the recently published Hal Higdon's Half Marathon Training and Run Fast (3rd edition).