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Marsh column: Preseason conditioning for cross-country runners

Q. My child wants to run cross-country. I have told her to start running, but she is not motivated because the practices are not mandatory at this time.
What can I tell her to convince her to start?
A. First of all, I would ask her how serious she is about becoming part of a cross-country team ó or whatever sport he or she wants to participate in.
Secondly, I would tell her by starting now, she will be ahead of the game since she will be at a base conditioning when the mandatory practices start.
Unfortunately, there are children (and adults) who want to do everything, and do it well, with the least amount of practice or training. Being a dedicated athlete takes time, effort, dedication, lots of sweat and sometimes tears!
To practice in non-mandatory preseason will help you, the athlete, tremendously. You can start slow and at your own pace. For basic conditioning, start running one mile. If you can’t run one mile at a time ó I am really happy you’re starting now ó run until you can’t go any more and walk. Get your breath back and start running again. Do this each workout most days of the week.
When you can run one mile at a time, increase your mileage.
Athletes in any sport should be able to run two to three miles at a time preseason. The sport you are participating in will dictate if this should continue.
An example: A short-distance track athlete will focus on speed and turnover. To continue long-distance work will not enhance their performance for events of 100 meters and 200 meters.
Besides your cardiovascular conditioning for cross-country, you can add a strength workout to your preseason conditioning.
A preseason strength workout for distance running could look like this:
Your workout should consist of two sessions a week with at least one day separating sessions.
Your sessions will be 30 to 40 minutes long, 12-15 repetitions for two to three sets. Rest sessions in between exercises are one minute or less.
– Warm-up for about five minutes on bike or treadmill or with a jog.
– Lunges
– Bent-over rowing
– Calf raises
– Overhead press
– Shoulder shrugs
– Lower-back exercise
– Abdominal exercise
– Shoulder side lateral raises.
Additional injury prevention exercises:
– Leg extensions
– Leg curls
Finally, stretch. Take two sets of 15 seconds or three sets of 10 seconds per stretch
Good luck and have a great season!
nnn
Ester Marsh is associate executive director of the J.F. Hurley Family YMCA. Contact her with health and fitness questions at 704-636-0111 or emarsh@rowanymca.com.

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