The HS season has concluded and as promised I’m posting the workouts done by the HS kids. Below you’ll find a link to the workouts done from July to December. Easy runs/long runs and mileage aren’t included, just the main workouts. Enjoy. Feel free to ask questions, leave a critique, whatever. Over the next couple weeks I’ll probably do some sort of review of how the season went and what to change for track.

High School CC training 2009

The season ended well for Ryan. He ended up 12th at nationals which was a solid race. I went into the race thinking that if he had a good race, top 10 was possible and if he had a great race top 5 was within reach. Well, he was right there in contention. The gap between the top few and him was not that large and a few seconds here or there was the difference between his 12th and a top 10 finish. Throw in the fact that it was about 30 degrees, a little cold for a TX kid, and it was a great effort. The woop de do hill thingies seemed to affect him more than we thought they would. Each time they went over those things he’d lose ground on the pack and have to surge to get back up there. No idea on what we could have done differently to prepare for those though, as we don’t have anything like that in houston.

I’ll post more on the experience later but Nike does a first class job in taking care of the kids. It was a great experience for the HSers. I had the priveledge of staying in the altitude house with Alan while I was up there, which was pretty cool. And I got to analyze Paula Radcliffe’s form while they took high speed video of her. I’ll keep my opinions on her form to myself though so you’ll have to ask me in private if you want my analysis, haha.

Lastly, congrats to all of the Texas teams and individuals. They performed great and showed the quality of runners TX has. Boerne and The Woodlands in particularly ran great. I wish our team would have had a chance to compete their as I have no doubt they would have finished top 15 and if they put it together top 10, as they were only 12pts from the #3 team in the nation at state…but what can you do when you leave it to the at large selectors. Maybe next year they’ll take 4 TX teams instead of the 4 CA teams.

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    1. Anonymous on December 8, 2009 at 11:37 pm

      Congradulations to the high school kids onn a good cc season. Ryan did real well and I know he has alot of running ahead. Good post Steve-keep it up

    2. Anonymous on December 9, 2009 at 3:13 am

      Steve, the last week is confusing cause you have workouts posted on days that werent on the calendar leading up to NXN. Where did the last three workouts fit in?

    3. stevemagness on December 9, 2009 at 8:32 pm


      My mistake on that last week of work. Ignore the last week. That was what was initially planned but we switched things up to get him feeling good.

      So the week of NXN was simply 2×800, 4-5xHS on tuesday and then race on saturday.

    4. Anonymous on December 10, 2009 at 1:05 am

      I am curious why you chose two LT workouts and a third long/strength day the week of august 17th, when previously they had only one LT paired with hill sprints prior. Also, it also does not fit the pattern (long/moderate paired with short/intense, equalizing over time) over the following weeks. Forgive me if I over simplified; I hope you understand my question.

    5. stevemagness on December 10, 2009 at 2:27 am

      Thanks for the comment.

      If you notice on that week the third session it says (HS instead), it means we did Hill sprints instead.

      But to answer your question.

      The longer alternation workout was an introduction to slightly faster work while still being a high end aerobic workout. It serves as a type of transition from threshold stuff to the alternation work we do. It's a transition workout that serves as a foundation for the later alternation workouts (for example the 400 at 5k/1200 steady done a couple weeks later).

      Why I originally had two threshold sessions that week is it's a type of a weeklong supercompensation block where we focus mostly on one variable. This occured right at the end of the summer and before the guys started racing. So, essentially, it's a short block of heavy training in one direction looking for a big adaptation. I don't do this very often, but it is essentially trying to top off that element and take it to the next level before we start transitioning towards other stuff.

      I switched to hill sprints after the alternation workout because of how the guys looked/felt/etc. After the monday and wed workouts which both hit high end endurance well and the guys performed well on those, there was no need for a 3rd workout in the same direction.

      Hope that answers your question, if not let me know and i'll clarify.

    6. Anonymous on December 13, 2009 at 3:00 am

      Hi Steve great blog found it by chance doing some Jan Olbrecht looking. I have his book very hard to get.

      I'm on my second reading, my thing is cycling, I also have tudor bompa and Peter Janssen's. I think the belgian books dont transale well.
      Hi from san diego

    7. Eric Richey on December 17, 2009 at 2:00 pm


      Thanks so much for posting this – and congrats on KO's awesome season – and Ryan's continued progression.

      A Couple Questions if you're willing:
      1. After the intitial base period with LT work 1-2x / week – it looks like you simply touch on LT once every 10-14 days (EZ-Med Fartlek, Aerobic Refresh: 10-7.5-5etc, LT + 400s). Is this an accurate description of your approach? Do some of the non-workout days ever touch on high-end aerobic if the guys feel good? Or are the workouts listed here pretty much all of the high-end aerobic running that you do during the season? I wonder because it looks as if Ryan did very little LT work in the last 3 weeks of the season and obviously he didn't get stale or lose any fitness during that time.

      2. I also notice that the workouts all seem to be pretty manageable in volume (2-3mi for most workouts at 5K pace or faster) but higher in frequency (or density). You see a lot of other top HS programs doing 4-5mi worth of total work on quality days. I just wondered what your thoughts were regarding the design of hard days.

      This issue spills over into broader questions of how do we link the Training to the Race. Scott Simmons argues that the athlete "should find the race in the workout" – developing the skills needed to race well. Your approach seems to focus on getting the desired physiological benefits out of training – and then taking them to the race course. Could you give me your thoughts on this?

      Thanks again man – I appreciate the site and your insight provided here.

    8. stevemagness on December 17, 2009 at 3:24 pm

      THanks, and very good questions.

      1. That's by design. We try and build up a good high end aerobic base and then convert that into something more specific to the race. We touch on it every 2 weeks or so just as a sort of maintanance. If you look at some of the workouts though, they are very high end aerobic. Look at the alternations, they serve as a great transition of LT into specific endurance. Doing 400m at 5k pace, 1200m steady (5:40's pace maybe) is a very high end aerobic workout, that will boost the LT too.

      Some of the non-workout days touch on high end aerobic. Most aren't, but the guys run by feel so some do. For instance, some of the long runs touch on this high end aerobic work. It's not unusualy for the guys to do the last 5mi in under 30min on a hilly 5mi course.

      2. For High school kids especially I am not a big fan of high volumes in workouts. I try and take a long term approach. Do just enough right now for these guys to get a stimulus. That way there is somewhere for them to go in college and hopefully post collegiate careers. Why should I do 5mi's of volume of workouts when they get very good adaptation out of 3mi. There will be a time and place later in there career when they need to do workouts that long but no need to go there if it's not needed.

      I really think that's one of the keys for our program. All workouts are maneagable. I believe that improved racing comes from putting together a ton of consistant/progressive work. They don't need to hit some incredible workout that's good for the log, but not much else. So, I go the route of maneagable workouts pretty frequently. Ryan put it nicely when he told me basically (and i'm paraphrasing) "our workouts aren't hard at all compared to other programs. I couldn't do some of the workouts I've seen other top HS programs do, but we race right there with them." The point is to race. not train. Again, I believe in taking the long term approach. I don't need to beat the hell out of my HS kids, I think i've found a way how to develop them very well aerobically without that hard of a workout.

      I see a lot of guys/teams who I look at their workouts and have the reaction of "Wow, I'm surprised they aren't running faster." I want people to look at the workouts of the HS kids and say "Wow, I'm surprised they race as fast as they do off those workouts." That being said, we have one or two workouts where we'll hit it and it'll be impressive (for example, Ryans 7.5mi tempo coming through at 25:35), but those days are very rare.

      I think Simmons has some very good and interesting ideas but we disagree on this one. As my HS coach used to say, successful racing comes when you "win" the majority of your workouts. Meaning, similar to Lydiard's idea, that the athlete should walk away feeling good about the workout and that he ran well without it killing him. In other words, the athlete wins the workout and doesn't just survive it.

      We almost never do the same workout twice, even year to year. One reason is I don't want them to compare stuff because they can't look at the big picture. In addition, we do a lot of weird workouts that no one else does, so they can't compare to anyone elses program. The reason is simple, the workouts get these guys ready to race. The workouts aren't there to be indicators of how fast they should race. We workout to race, not the other way around.

      I also think going to the well in simulating races is very hard on the nervous system. WIth HS kids, they race so often that you don't need to simulate it ever in practice.

      Hope all that makes sense.

    9. Eric Richey on December 17, 2009 at 5:18 pm

      Steve – thanks for the thoughtful response. I agree with your philosophy by the way and I agree that Simmons has many other interesting ideas.

      Thanks again.

    10. Eric Richey on December 17, 2009 at 5:35 pm

      Steve – one more question when you get a chance.
      With regards to intensity I see that you keep just enough stimulus to keep the guys sharp (1mi quick + HS, 2 x 800m + HS). Do you maintain volume over the entire season or are your guys running much more in July and August than in October or November? How do you go about negotiating the last few weeks of the season in terms of volume? How much do you individualize based on the athlete's feedback?


    11. stevemagness on December 18, 2009 at 5:10 pm

      I'm huge on individualization, but given some restrictions with these guys we don't get to individualize workouts as much as I'd like.

      That being said, towards the peaking, I try and adjust stuff based on athlete's feedback. I'll give some examples below.

      Volume remains pretty high during most of the season. What I've found with most of the guys is that when we back off volume too much, they feel sluggish. It's mostly with the endurance type kids, or the ST/strength guys. SO, volume is kept pretty high throughout. Even when we are peaking, most of the volume reduction comes in the last few days before a race. The early part of the week has similar volume levels as they've been doing since august/september.

      I really think keeping the body ina routine is key for some kids. If you start making dramatic cuts, the bodies routine gets thrown off and it kind of goes through this process of thinking "oh, we're running a lot less, it's break time, let's shut down." So, I try to give just enough stimulus so that the kids don't go through that kind of cycle.

      The last few weeks are slightly less volume wise, but once again, most of that comes in the thur/fri before the race. The Sunday-wed is pretty similar volume to whats been done all season.

      Back to individualization of volume, as I said, some kids respond well to a volume reduction, others don't. In an ideal world, there would be complete individualization on volume changes at the end of the season.

    12. Eric Richey on December 18, 2009 at 5:59 pm

      Thanks – that's what i figured. That sounds consistent with what I perceive to be one of Simmons' better ideas (the significance of routine and circadian rhythms? I think).

      Last question on this post – I promise! What are your thoughts on doing the Long Run the day after the race? In other posts – you refer to this as a way to increase strength endurance. How often do your guys go Long the day after a tough race? Do you ever wait until two days later? How do you evaluate the risk/reward when it comes to injury? Thanks Steve for all your valuable insight.

    13. stevemagness on December 19, 2009 at 1:04 am

      Eric- Love the questions! Makes me better as a coach in having to actually think about why I do something.

      For the most part, I love long runs the day after a race, especially in the HS system. For HSers, the long run serves as basic general endurance, it's not a huge emphasis. They can run it nice and relaxed or they can run it at a pretty good clip, what they do normally depends on whether it's after a race or if its done during a week where there wasn't a race.

      I'd say, during the season, almost always do their long run after a race. You have to remember that, their long run isn't terribly long (maybe max 12-13 for most), and it's just not a point of emphasis. We don't wait to do it because for the HS guys I don't consider it to be more important than the work that were going to do monday and wed. And like I said, it's a wonderful way to gain strength endurance. You are doing a long run in a pre-fatigued state due to the race, so we're going to be training different fibers aerobically than is normally possible.

      As long as they keep things under control, I don't think there is a big risk of injury for doing it the day after the race. The key is easying into it. This might mean running the whole dang thing at 7min pace if you have to, but most of the time the kinks work themselves out.

      Now for athletes training for longer events, the long run takes on a different level of importance and then it might be important to put more emphasis on it and have more recovery going into it.

      But for HS kids, I think the long run after a race has really worked well.

      One more note, very rarely, but occasionally we do it, during the later part of the season, we might incorporate the "long run" into race day to allow for more recovery. For example, after our district meet, which they didn't have to run extremely hard in the race for, they did a long cool down of several miles and that served as the long run. This was done to provide for a little more recovery and rest leading up to regionals because we'd been hitting it pretty good for a bit. They wouldn't do anything crazy, but just 5-6mi cool down does the trick.

      Thanks for the questions Eric, all have been very good.

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