Summer Training: Staying Focused and Transitioning into Cross Country Season

So the school year is finally over and summer is shortly to come. Time to enjoy the sun, break out the barbecue, spend some quality time with friends...and start preparing for the upcoming cross country season! Yes, summer is a wonderful time of the year, but the fun and exciting activities summer vacation has to offer have potential to retract runners from their workout rhythms.

It's important to take a short breather after a grueling Track & Field season to let your body rest up and recover from the grind of hard workouts and competition. This resting period should be suited to your comfort level, based on how your body feels and/or any injuries you may have suffered during track season. If you're not quite sure if you?re ready to resume summer workouts, consult your coach or trainer for advice. An ideal resting period should be long enough for your body to make a near 100% recovery, but not too long where you feel yourself losing motivation and beginning to get out of shape. During my high school running career, I would take about two to three weeks off after both track and cross country season before resuming workouts, and this gave me plenty of time for rest and recovery. My coach at Canby High started summer workouts right around the second week of June, which was roughly three weeks after the final track meet of the season.

With summer vacation just starting, it can often be difficult to gather the motivation to start training again. It helps first to set a consistent time frame for your workout. Mornings or nights work great, as the mid to late-summer months can bring scorching daytime temperatures not ideal and sometimes even dangerous for running. From my experience, I've never been a morning person but I was able to consistently get myself up for my cross country team's summer workouts at 8:00 a.m. since my job consisted of mainly night shifts. It may be difficult at first to crawl out of bed at an early hour to lace up the running shoes, but just doing it for a couple mornings in a row can help enhance your motivation and start to produce a daily routine for your summer training.

Another great strategy for staying motivated is goal setting. Whether they are for the upcoming cross country season or even for next year's track season, it's never too early to set goals. These goals may also consist of a mileage plan for the summer, which can be easily planned out by consulting with your coaches and teammates. Social support is an extremely helpful way to keep striving toward your goals, so get your parents and friends involved in any way they may be able to help. It can be especially beneficial to have a close friend who is also a teammate on your cross country or track team. I had a good friend who would come over often during the summer before my junior and senior seasons and running became one of our routine activities. It gave us some quality time to chat, enjoy the outdoors and most importantly keep us in a training routine.

When starting the first workout of your summer training, your main objective should be to find your comfort level and where you are at as far as shape. If you ran primarily non-distance events during this last track season, your first few workouts should be focused on transitioning back to longer distance workouts you will be performing in cross country practices. If you are a distance runner, you may feel comfortable starting at higher mileage for your first workout. A good strategy for your first week or so of workouts is to build up a little each day, which can mean a longer distance or faster pace, with a few easier recovery days mixed in.

So now it's time to get out there and start the quest for your ultimate goals!

Matt Semperboni is a former sprinter and Cross Country runner for Canby (OR) High School, where he graduated in 2007. He is currently a senior psychology major/writing minor at Oregon State University