As always, I try to be up front and open about what I believe in coaching runners. There are no secret workouts, it has all been done at some time during the past, what changes is how all the ingredients are put together. It forces me to be a better coach and innovate more if I freely put out what was done in the previous season. The High School season finished this weekend with Ryan getting second in a 4sec PR (8:58 for full 2miles) behind his training partner for the past month, Tim Cousins who ran a huge 12sec PR (8:56), and is coached by Ryan’s dad. Ryan went for it, going out a bit too hard and tying up a little at the end, as he got to experience how tough it is to try and lead from a mile out. Anyways, as always I’ll post the exact workouts that Ryan and the other guys (Will and Tony) did this past season. Feel free to critique or ask questions.

Before posting the training schedule, I’d like to go over the season and the thought process of the training a little bit since it was a unique situation. As most of you know, Ryan started off the year with Mono. I’m going to post an excerpt of an email to another coach, so that you can see the idea/thought process behind taking someone who got mono to the state championship.

Ryan started showing the symptoms of some sickness in January. For a while, we just thought it was some sort of virus and he backed off training for a bit. After a while, the sickness never went away and his training was horrible. He was stopping on runs, couldn’t run 7:30 pace, couldn’t run very far, etc. So, his dad finally took him to get checked out for mono and he came up positive in early February.

From there, we took 2 weeks completely off. Then he started back running with no set schedule based on feel. We started very light with 10min or so of slow jogging and gradually progressed upwards. It took him about 2weeks to get where he could do a 50minute slow run. We started with very easy strides once he got up to 30min total.

Once he got to 50min, we started “workouts”. Throughout this process we used resting heart rate upon waking as a way to tell the stress his body was going through and how he was recovering. We did not start anything that could be considered remotely hard until his resting HR was near what it had been pre-mono.

So, to give you a time line, we had 2 weeks off, then about 2 weeks of building minutes run per day to around 50min. From here, it was 5wks to his Texas Relays 8:59 3200m. So 7weeks of training, 5 weeks of workouts. From Tx Relays, we had another 6 weeks till State while having to go through the qualifying rounds of district and regionals in between.

With the workouts, the focus, especially early on, was a large amount of medium/moderate workouts. Nothing was too taxing and the volume was kept low. The goal was to limit the stress on his body. With workouts, the goal was to build both specific endurance and aerobic abilities at the same time essentially. Coupling this with the fact that coming back from Mono, it seemed like the longer repeats and longer work in general gave him the most problems, I went with a bunch of short repeats at easy paces, combined with some low volume longer work with lots of recovery.

Essentially the short repeat work at slow paces allowed us to get a good deal of work in but it was at a much lower total stress than if we did traditional 800-1km type repeats. Plus by keeping the repeats short, we were able to run at specific 3200m type paces but the effect was the same as a threshold type workout. Thus building comfort at fast paces while building high end aerobic abilities at the same time. Essentially, I took an Igloi like training approach and combined it with some more high end aerobic work.

We did 2 or so “workouts” per week with the rest very easy running w/ some short strides after. Unfortunately, for various reasons we had to enter a couple races, which are outlined below. An example of such a workout is:

5×100(18-20sec) w/ 50m jog, 400m jog, 2x200m w/ 100m jog (36-38pace), lap jog, 4x150m (17-19sec) w/ 50m jog, lap jog, 2x200m w/ 100m jog (35-37sec)

Early on, I don’t think Ryan believed he could run fast off what we called mini-workouts. The 9:12 at Kingwood went a long way in giving him confidence off of such a minimal workload.

After Tx Relays, we had district and regionals to get ready for. For the 2 weeks following Tx Relays, I was still trying to build fitness with some high end aerobic work and specific endurance for the 2mi, coming at it from the aerobic side with an alternation. After district, the emphasis changed to try and develop the ability to finish strong. That meant a lot of mixed workouts combining 2mi/1mi paces, and some workouts focused entirely on kicking to the finish, such as 800m w/ the last 200m a pickup.

Following state, we had about a month between state and the Midwest distance Gala. For this month, Tim and Ryan got to train together so that made it where we could get in some high quality mixed 2mile/1mile sessions.

If you notice throughout, there was very little mile specific workouts. This was done for two reasons. First, Ryan is an aerobic machine, so that was his strength so we played to it. Secondly, coming off Mono, I felt like the longer mile paced repeats would be too stressful on his body, in particular his immune system. That’s why you see a bunch of short repeats such as 200m at mile pace, or only a limited amount of longer mile paced work.

While the post focuses on Ryan, a couple notes on Will and Tony. First, Tony, we had to switch the training very late to the 800m because that’s the event he had to run at district, so his schedule is kind of crazy. With Will, you’ll notice a down week in the middle. I did this because previously Will seems to run out of gas racing every single week. By inserting a down week I was trying to refresh him mentally and physically to sustain the long season. I think it worked pretty well as he came away with his 3200m PR (9:15) at regionals.

For the full schedule click below:
Full Schedule- Word Document
(Note that it’s workouts only, easy mileage and long runs are not listed.)


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    1. Eric Richey on June 18, 2010 at 5:35 pm


      Fascinating stuff. It looks like Ryan's comeback from Mono allowed you to try out some Igloi style "Aerobic Intervals". Thanks for your transparency.

      Is there anything you learned from this season that you will employ in this upcoming XC Season with your guys? I am always curious about little tweaks Coaches will make based on last season's results.

    2. Lisa Fajardo on February 6, 2014 at 11:30 pm

      Hello Steve! I am a 17 year old who is getting over mono, and I would like to get back into my usual workouts gradually. I was wondering if you had any way for me to contact you? Thank you.

    3. Julie on April 7, 2017 at 10:04 am

      Hi Steve,

      Would love to chat with you about your mono plans….my top distance gal (also my daughter) had it in Feb (about the same timeline as your Ryan….) I’d like to show you what we have done thus far and get ideas on what to do next.


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