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    Should my sprinter son run XC, or....
    #1
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    ...do sprinting-specific training this fall (and winter)? He ran 12.08(A)(6500' elevation) and 24.38(A), both auto-timed, this past spring as a freshman. He PRed in both events four meets in a row to close out the season. He wants to be a 100/200 runner, despite everyone looking at the skinny white boy and saying he ought to run the 400, then the 800, then the 1600. He's been doing pullups, pushups etc for maybe 18 months, and lifting when he can since last November (5'7", weighs 129, can bench 135 free weights, clean 155x5, and squat 260x10). His HS sprint coach is about 79 y.o., still sharp mind, coaching for 30+ years, state champ in HS in Colorado, probably not up on the latest training concepts. I'm going to hook my son up with a sprint coach in Colorado Springs for four sessions (90' eval, two hour implementation, then 2 one-hour followups after two and four weeks.) He's self-motivated and will follow through on what's recommended for him.

    So, you coaches/pundits out there...should he run XC, or do sprint-specific training? Any books or online resources you would recommend to learn about sprint training? I think I could take a kid who ran 4:45 as a sophomore and coach him to a 4:20 as a senior, but am pretty clueless about how to train a sprinter.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrJay View Post
    So, you coaches/pundits out there...should he run XC, or do sprint-specific training?
    Despite all the booing form the dist types here, I say NO to XC, when my kids ask me the same question. If they want to be sprinters, I tell them to get into a good fall weight room regimen, add some plyos and speed-endurance training. So a week might look like (there's literally a million different ways to do this):

    Mon: WtRm (hr) - light plyos (30 mins)
    Tues: 4x150 @60-70-80-70% [full recovery for all runs, 5-8 mins]
    Wed: WtRm - 2x400 @70%
    Thu: 3x200 @60-80-60%
    Fri: WtRm - a little heavier plyos (20 mins)
    Sat - here's where he could go for a 40 minute run at an easy pace.

    There's lots of technical drills that could be added in there, but I do those in early spring. Your mileage (pun!) may vary.

    Never do the exact same routine every week.
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    #3
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    Atticus nails it.
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    #4
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    Because XC is a fall sport and it some states a relatively short season, and since he is going to be a soph in high school, I might suggest his giving cross country a try. If he runs indoor track he will get all the sprint work necessary to get ready for outdoor, which for my money, is the season for high school track and field. If the concern is that running slow and long will keep him from being able to run fast for short distances, my opinion is not to worry. Teach him good sprint mechanics (and don't tell anyone, but they are the same for distance runners) and he will be fine. And after a season of cross country he will never complain about a sprint workout being too hard. That alone may be a good reason to have him run.
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    #5
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    Smile
    I don't recall that we had this dilemma 70 years ago but I agree with DJG.
    What is it gonna hurt? If you can run fast, you can run fast... and XC will inspire you to run fast so you don't have to run long.
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    #6
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    How old/what grade is he? I would never tell a sprinter to run cross country, and if he is young I might even encourage him to do another sport for variety.
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    #7
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    A big NO to XC. IMO it's not that necessary even for 800m athletes but more so 1500m/mile types and up. Speed is so much more difficult to train than general endurance and therefore much time has to be devoted to it. This is not to say that an athlete should necessarily do flying 30s from day one but they can do very short acceleration work, short hills from day one.

    I also recommend, in general, a high-low intensity split so I'm in favor of doing sprints, jumps, throws and lifts on the same day so the CNS gets a break during training.

    If a kid really wants to make a go at those short sprints, though, he will have to train to improve his acceleration, maximal velocity, inter-muscular coordination, strength power levels via weights, med-ball throws (multi throws), short jumps (standing long jumps, standing triple jump, 3 bounds, 5 bounds), long jumps (Pfaff style rudiments and/or long bounds: straight leg bounds, speed bounds, alternating bounds, hops), short hills and light sled/tire pulls. Along with this are general fitness components done on days between high intensity sessions: extensive tempo runs, bodyweight and medicine ball circuits, mid-section circuits, hurdle mobility, general mobility training, static stretch routine at the end of training.

    There's virtually nothing from traditional XC training that will improve upon maximal velocity and acceleration.

    I will add that I agree with GM above in that if your son does not end up putting more time into training in the off-season for sprints I'd recommend doing another sport rather than XC. Something such as football or if your state has boy's volleyball I think that could be a good choice as well.
    Last edited by cladthin; 08-03-2015 at 12:04 AM.
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    #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by DJG View Post
    Teach him good sprint mechanics (and don't tell anyone, but they are the same for distance runners)
    I like everything else you say, but gotta disagree with that. Sprint biomechanics are actually quite different than distance running form, especially in ground-strike.

    Quote Originally Posted by gm View Post
    I might even encourage him to do another sport for variety.
    Indeed. I like football, volleyball and especially soccer.
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    #9
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    Absolutely!

    The speed is already there, and what seperates sprinters, yep, endurance. The better shape a sprinter is in the better off he will be. so ya want to lay a strong foundation early on. There is a reason the WR 100/200 in both male and female is held by sprinters who could anchor Olympic 4x4 teams.

    Build that endurance, it will only help all other facets of sprinting.
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    #10
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    Im rethinking my no cross country position.

    The cross country race is a 5k race. I would say that if his HS coach is a 60miles-per-week kind of coach then I would say to stay away from that. If however the coach is a bit more progressive and trains with more of an interval approach, running fast paced 1 mile and 2 mile workouts, mixing in 4x400, 4x800s interval work with a base of 3 mile road work then I would say there is not a great deal of harm to be done at that age.
    Last edited by user4; 08-03-2015 at 01:50 PM.
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