Junior High Cross Country

This is not sprinting related, but I know there are some distance experts on this site like Palmtag who might be able to help me out.

Here is the situation
I need some help on training Junior High athletes. I am a former D1 Thrower with little CC experience and I am being asked to take over the cross country team at my Junior High. The team will generally have 1-2 meets a week. Until the last several weeks of the season where they will just have one meet a week on Saturdays. They will begin on Sept 1 and the season ends in mid october. Almost all the runners have little or no running experience or any structured program in the past. Does any one have any sample weeks of workouts suited for this type of athlete. I am uncertain how much volume these kids can take. With such a short season they never really have time to develop a GPP. The season is almost over before you know it. Basically 7 weeks long. Would the volume and workouts be similar for both boys and girls? Also, I think it needs to be fun at this age,I want to encourage participation. Any suggestions on how you would structure your season or typical weeks would be of a great benefit.


I am not a distance expert, but have some experience with it. What is the race distance for this age group? (5k’s are standard for HS, i am not sure about MS)

As these athletes have little experience, i would keep the mileage low, roughly 3-4 miles-ish a day TOPS. At this age, “speed”-work is pretty irrelevant, especially with the number of meets they are doing. (2 a week is a lot, especially if these are 5ks). I would focus on keeping it fun.
As far as strength work, i would keep it to body-weights and abs. (Mostly focus on abs).

Vigil is a good reference on distance running, but i don’t know if really addresses younger athletes.

I hope that some of this helped…


I think you are correct about speed work at that age for running cross-country. Sorry i should have specified the distance. They race 2 miles for both boys and girls

I joined the cross country team in high school because it was stacked with hot broads. I really couldn’t have cared less about the training situation. As long as I got to hang out with fine looking ladies and leave school early on race day, I was happy. :wink:

BTW: We’d go on a few 4-5km runs per week. The races were normally 6-7km.