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Running Basics & Terms

Cross Country Basics

  • Races are 3 miles long
  • Courses differ based on where the meet is being held
  • Top 5 runners are scored based on place, lowest score wins
  • We are in the Trinity League
  • We are a Division 3 school
  • Trinity League Divisions: Boys and Girls Varsity, JV, and Frosh/Soph
  • Invitational race order is decided by who is hosting the meet, schedules will be posted
  • Athletes should hydrate (water) throughout the day
  • Athletes should bring water and food (protein bar, sandwich, fruit, etc.) to meets
  • Avoid junk food (soda, chips, fast food, etc.) before running
  • Practice does not have a set ending time because workouts vary
  • Athletes should MD team gear (sweats/warm-ups) to meets
  • Race day prep includes warm-up, stretching, drills, strides, and cool-down
  • A pair of running shoes typically lasts 350 miles (3-4 months)
  • Athletes should speak to Coach Martinez if they feel an injury
  • Every member of the team is held accountable for their responsibilities as a student athlete

Common Cross Country Terminology

Used to refer to running or other exercise at an intensity that's sufficiently easy for your respiratory and cardiovascular systems to deliver all or most of the oxygen required by your muscles, and slow enough that lactic acid doesn't appreciably build up in your muscles. Generally, you can sustain a slow aerobic pace for long periods of time, provided you have the endurance to go long distances.

Used to refer to running or other exercise at an intensity that makes it impossible for your respiratory and cardiovascular systems to deliver all or most of the oxygen required by your muscles, and fast enough that lactic acid begins to build up in your muscles, thus producing a tired, heavy feeling. The pace associated with anaerobic running cannot be sustained very long.

Anaerobic threshold (AT) or lactate threshold
The transition phase between aerobic and anaerobic running. Good training will increase AT by teaching the muscles to use oxygen more efficiently, so that less lactic acid is produced. Also known as "lactate threshold."

Slow running or jogging done after a workout or competition to loosen muscles and rid the body of lactic acid.

Swedish for "speed play;" variable pace running; a mixture of slow running, running at a moderate pace and short, fast bursts. Fartlek training is a "creative way" to increase speed and endurance.

"Hitting the wall"
The dreaded point (and awful feeling similar to what your body would feel like if you ran into a wall) during a race when your muscle glycogen stores become depleted and a feeling of fatigue engulfs you.

Intervals or repeats
Training in which short, fast "repeats" or "repetitions" often 200 to 800 meters, are alternated with slow "intervals" of jogging for recovery; usually based on a rigid format such as "six times 400 meters fast [these are the repeats] with 400-meter recovery jogs [the intervals]," interval training builds speed and endurance.

Junk miles
Runs at an easy pace inserted into a program in order to reach a weekly or monthly mileage total rather than for any specific benefit. Despite the name, "junk miles" often serve as recovery from harder workouts. The value of "junk miles" is still hotly debated among training theorists.

Lactic acid
A substance which forms in the muscles as a result of the incomplete breakdown of glucose. Lactic acid is associated with muscle fatigue and sore muscles.

Accelerations done during a run, normally done in shorter durations than fartleks. Pick-ups are simply another way to spice up what would otherwise be an easy-run day.

Bounding exercises; any jumping exercise in which landing followed by a jump occurs.

Personal record/personal best.
Refers to your times at mile markers or other pre-planned checkpoints along the way to the finish line.

Short, fast, but controlled runs of 50 to 150 meters. Strides, which are used both in training and to warm up before a race, build speed and efficiency.

Runners usually cut back mileage (or taper) one day to three weeks (depending on race distance) before a big race. Tapering helps muscles rest so that they are ready for peak performance on race day.

Tempo runs
Sustained effort training runs, usually 20 to 30 minutes in length, at 10 to 15 seconds per mile slower than 10-K race pace. Another way to gauge the pace of tempo runs: a pace about midway between short-interval training speed and your easy running pace.

Threshold runs
Runs of 5 to 20 minutes at a pace just a little slower than your 10-K racing pace; Threshold pace is roughly equivalent to what exercise physiologists call "lactate threshold," or the point at which your muscles start fatiguing at a rapid rate. Running at or near lactate threshold is believed to raise your lactate threshold, which should allow you to run faster in the future.

VO2Max (maximal oxygen consumption)
The maximal amount of oxygen that a person can extract from the atmosphere and then transport and use in the body's tissues.

Five to twenty minutes of easy jogging/walking before a race or a workout. The point of a warm-up is to raise one's heart rate so the body (and its muscles) are looser before a tough workout begins.