By Andrea Johnson
San Gorgonio High School's cross country program is based on three
words: Believe, Achieve, Succeed. These three words are the team's philosophy and the
emphasis of the three cycles the team utilizes throughout the entire season of cross
BELIEVE -- Base Building
The preparation period or the "Believe" Cycle is the first
phase of San Gorgonio's program. The emphasis of this cycle is to "believe" in
your self. Getting athletes to "believe" involves:
- to "believe" they can train in the heat if they properly
hydrate and care for themselves,
- to "believe" that they are in control of their training and
that for improvement to take place, they must train and attend all practices with the
Training in San Bernardino during this cycle at 5:30 p.m (the teams
weekday practice time) involves temperatures above 100 degrees with smog always an issue.
Saturday workouts are held at 7:00 a.m. and tend to be our "hard" or
The main goal of the base building cycle is to slowly and gradually
increase the distance of the weekly mileage and the intensity of the workouts in an effort
to prepare athletes for the demands of the race. Key workouts include the "long"
run; hill running and hill circuits; and 800m repetitions. The "long" run begins
in the first week in 45 minutes and at the end of the season will average 1-hour
20-minutes. At San Gorgonio, minutes are utilized instead of miles due to the heat factor.
For example, if the team can average 8-miles in 1-hour on an 80-degree day, then when it's
102 degrees outside, the team will run for 1-hour istead of completing the 8-mile course
in say 1-hour 30-minutes and feeling miserable.
Hill running is a training method used by San Gorgonio as much as
possible. During the summer, we do steady runs and long runs in the foothills, so exposure
to hills is done pretty quickly. Hill circuits are then added after the team returns from
running camp in late August, preparing for the competition period. Hill Circuits are
performed once a week and done in the same manner as repetition workouts. Each repetition
will average 3-7 minutes in length for a total exertion of 20-25 minutes. Work/recovery
ratio is performed 1:2. Athletes are instructed to run the hill circuits at
"pace" and are therefore training to race up and down hills. 800m repetitions
are also incorporated into the cycle in late August. The key to this workout is to have
the athletes perform the 800m's with a "flying" race start and to settle into
race pace by the 800m. Work/Recovery ratio is 1:2. Again, emphasis is training to race.
ACHIEVE -- Competition
The competition period or "Achieve" Cycle is the second
training period San Gorgonio utilizes. It runs from the week of the team's first race,
September 16, through the end of the regular season, October 30. During this phase, the
emphasis of the cycle is for each athlete to "achieve" as an individual. This is
the part of the season where the hard work performed in the "believe" cycle will
pay off. Athletes are asked to achieve beyond their efforts from the previous year and to
start reaching towards or achieving their goals of this season. The stress is on
individual performances instead of a team concept. It is San Gorgonio's belief that if an
athlete can achieve first as an individual, then they will succeed as a team.
Methods of training utilized in the competition period are races, hill
circuits, and the "long" run. Steady state runs performed the day before a meet
are slightly slower than 1-minute per mile slower than race pace due to a
"mental" block the team has yet to overcome. Athletes at San Gorgonio believe
they must train slower the day before a meet to be recovered. So as a coach, I play on
this team "belief" early season and will shift later in the championship phase
to a "true" steady state run. 200m repetitions are also included the day before
the meet to rectify the "slow" running. These 200m's were already learned during
the 800m phase the team was exposed to in the base-building phase, and are done with
either a "flying" race start and then settling into pace or at race pace (200m's
at race pace is pretty easy).
Races are a big emphasis in this phase. The team is entered in a series
of invitationals throughout the first three weeks of this phase and league competition
also begins. The team averages two meets a week for a three week minicycle where races are
the hardest workout of the cycle. The other workouts are steady state runs that range in
distance from 5-7 miles and are done at steady pace about one-minute slower per mile than
the individual athlete's race pace--this is also dependent on the heat factor and injury
or fatigue factor. If these arise the pace is slightly slower. The workout schedule is as
- Wed., Sept. 18 -- Rim of the World Invitational (race)
- Sat., Sept. 21 -- Woodbridge Invitational (race)
- All other workouts are steady state this week.
- Mon., Sept. 23 -- "Long" 1:20
- Tues., Sept. 24 -- Hill Circuits (25 minutes of exertion with 1:1
- Sat., Sept. 28 -- Dana Hills Invitational
- All other runs are steady state.
- Wed., Oct. 2 -- Rim of the World (1st league meet)
- Sat., Oct. 5 -- Yucaipa Invitaitonal
- All other runs steady state.
After these three weeks, the athletes are pretty "stressed"
which leads to the next three week minicycle with emphasis on recovery. Weekly mileage is
slightly lowered as the team shifts from six days of training a week to a five-day week.
Sunday and Monday are "rest" days and the other five days are somewhat
"quality" days. Tuesdays are slightly shorter in distance steady state runs with
200m repeats. Wednesdays are League races. On Thursday we run "long" in the
hills (1:10-1:20) and on Friday are steady state runs. Saturdays are Hill Circuits (hill
circuits are still 25 minutes in duration but are done at a pace faster than race pace
with a 1:1 Work/Recovery ratio).
SUCCEED -- Championships
The final phase of the competition period is the championships phase.
This is San Gorgonio's "Succeed" Cycle. At this point, athletes have proven
themselves as individuals and now it's time for the team to succeed as a unit or force.
The championship phase begins at the conclusion of the last League meet (October 30) and
ends where the team or athlete is projected to complete his/her final competition whether
it be Finals or the State Meet. If you are questionable as to whether your team or
individual can or will advance to a higher level, say for example, to the Finals, then
project to the end, as training can still hold over one more week. Two key concepts are
recovery and anaerobic workouts. Training methods will remain the same as the competition
period with the exception that all hill circuits are performed anaerobically (the distance
of each circuit is 3 minutes or less, still maintaining and exertion phase of 25 minutes
total, with a 1:1 or less Work/Recovery ratio) and the "long" run is decreased
to one-hour shifting towards more steady state runs during thie phase. Pre-Meet steady
state runs are slightly shorter in distance and 200m's are done from a "flying"
start and are completed faster than race pace.
Mental preparation is key at this point of the season. As a coach, I
have a hard time with the mental attitude and try to develop this early and stay away from
this at the end of the sesason when the athletes are already "stressed" out. I
will build confidence by always stressing the past. I reflect back to the preparation
period of San Gorgonio's training and stress the "believe" cycle
("Believe" in yourself as you prepared for the season). Secondly, I reflect on
the "achieve" cycle and let athletes know they have "achieved" in the
competition period, which already directs them towards "success."
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