Cross Country XC

Coach Benjy Edwards
[email protected]

XX Schedule

What is Cross Country?

In short, cross country is distance running, but without a track. At the middle school level, runners compete in 2-mile races, typically on dirt and grass trails. Once runners reach high school, the races increase to 5k. Don’t worry, we don’t expect you to be good when you first start. 

Why Should I Run Cross Country?

We believe that cross country is a sport for everyone. You don’t have to have any experience in running to participate in cross country. While some runners are naturally better than others, everyone can improve as a distance runner and find personal satisfaction. Cross Country is also a great way to condition for other sports. There’s no better way to prepare for basketball and soccer than by running cross country. In fact, we are fully supportive of you playing other sports. Most of all, cross country is fun and will allow you to make lots of lasting friendships. And if you stick with it, you’ll be well prepared to join the DCHS Cross Country team one day and be part of one of the most successful high school distance running programs in Georgia. 

What Can I Do To Help Prepare For Cross Country Season?

If the workout listed below is too confusing, running 25-30 minutes 3 times a week will help build your fitness and endurance and get you ready for the upcoming season.

Physicals:  All athletes must have a current physical on file with Coach Edwards before the first day of practice.  If you need a physical form you can print one off the Dawson County Middle School website.  When you are on the home page, click on the Athletics tab at the top, then click on forms and information.

Practice Dates:  6th and 7th Grade:  Official practice will start August 2nd, 3rd, and 5th at the Middle School from 3:00-4:15.  Once kids start school, we will practice Monday’s, Tuesday’s and Thursday’s right after school until 4:15.

8th Grade will practice with the high school and run middle school and JV events.  Voluntary workouts at the high school will start the week of June 7th.  Training will be Monday-Thursday starting at 7:00 am until 8:15 am.  If you cannot attend, please try to follow the schedule below and train at home as much as you can.  You must have a physical on file to participate.  Official practice will start the week of August 2nd, Monday-Thursday with the time to be determined.

High School One Day A Week:  Coach Tinsley has also invited 6th and 7th graders to join the high school on Tuesday mornings over the summer starting June 8th from 7:00 am until 8:15 am.  This is completely voluntary and athletes who attend will need to have a current physical to participate.

Remind Sign-up: It is important for your parents to sign up for remind.  This is how I will communicate important information throughout the summer and during the season.  Please follow the steps on the next page to get signed up.


These workouts are set up for the “beginner” runner.  If you are a veteran runner, you may adjust the workout by adding 5-8 minutes onto the timed runs.  Do not overdo it on any of the workouts as you may burn out.

You will refer back to these terms when completing the workout schedule at the bottom of this document.  You will hear these terms often when we start practice in August.  If one of these terms/drills does not make sense to you, please do not get discouraged.  Time spent moving is the key to help build your fitness and endurance.

EASY: Recovery pace, not ridiculously slow; an “as you feel” pace; “Talking” jog pace 

EASY/MODERATE: Relaxed, picking it up to a little faster than easy pace 

MODERATE: The pace you go when you are on a “regular run;” It’s not hard, just a de- cent enjoyable effort.

LONG: You will do one long run (40-45 minutes) every week. These runs are done at a relaxed pace, no faster than moderate effort. The long runs will make you strong, both physically and mentally. 

TEMPO: About 30 seconds per mile slower than your current 2-mile pace (about 15 seconds slower than one-mile pace for Jr High and beginners). These runs are to be done on a flat course and the same pace be maintained throughout. “Comfortably hard” as we will call it, tempo workouts are the most important tool for improving your fitness and endurance. Also known as “Anaerobic Threshold Pace,” this run will raise the heart rate at which fatigue sets in. Basically, you can go harder for longer.


Your standard warm up for every run, including races, will be 10 to 15 minutes of easy pace. Follow the run with a quick series of dynamic stretches of major muscles and anything that needs it.

For easy runs, your warm up and cool down may be included in your total 45 minute run time, but make sure you stretch after 10-15 minutes and follow up with cool down stretches. For these runs, we will use the last mile or so as a cool down (same easy pace as warm up). After a recovery run, we will do 6 to 10 strides of about 100 meters at a relaxed, moderate+ pace. In addition to that, we will be doing core-strengthening exercises; so “easy” days aren’t exactly easy, they’re just less difficult than the hard days. Strides and stretching after runs helps prevent injury, so approach it as seriously as any other part of a workout. Stretch well after every training session regardless of whether or not you are with the team. Also, be sure to put ice on any areas that hurt or feel stressed during training. 

XT: means “cross training.” Examples of cross training include, but are not limited to, swimming, water running for 20-30 minutes (this is one of the best!!!), core stability exercises, hiking, rollerblading, yoga, or any activity or sport that adds some zest to your workout week and breaks the boredom of your routine, yet targets an area that you have not been able to develop in your regular workouts. On XT days, avoid activities that can fatigue the calf muscles: stair machines, rowing machines, cycling or leg strengthening exercises. These activities should be done on running days.

CADENCE or TURNOVER DRILLS: This is an easy drill that improves the efficiency of running, reducing effort. This pulls all the elements of good running form together at the same time. Over the weeks and months, doing these two or more times a week will naturally increase the number of steps per minute (which means you run faster, easier). 


1. Warm up by walking for 5 minutes, and running and walking very gently for 10 minutes. 

2. Start jogging slowly for 1-2 minutes, and then time yourself for 30 seconds. During this half minute, count the number of times your left OR right foot touches (each runner chooses one).

3. Walk around for a minute or so. 4. On the 2nd thirty second drill, increase the count by 1 or 2. 

....In the process of improving cadence or turnover, the body’s internal monitoring system coordinates a series of adaptations molding the feet, legs, nervous system and timing mechanism into an efficient team: 

 Your foot touches lightly. 

 Extra, inefficient motions of the foot and leg are reduced or eliminated. 

 Less effort is spent on pushing up or moving forward, saving energy. 

 You stay lower to the ground-becoming smoother and faster. 

 The ankle becomes more efficient. 

 Abuse of weak link areas is reduced.

ACCELERATION-GLIDER DRILLS (ACG):  This drill is a form of speed play, or fartlek. By doing it regularly, you develop a range of speeds with the muscle conditioning to move smoothly from one to the nest. The greatest benefit comes as you learn how to “glide”, or coast off your momentum.

FARTLEK: Swedish for “speed play,” these workouts are for building your ability to vary pace when you need to. Putting on surges to break the competition as well as being able to respond to their attacks is an important part of racing. These workouts consist of timed bursts of near race pace with about equal amounts of easy recovery running in between. 

HILLS: These workouts build strength and you will need it with the courses you race. Usually, hill work is done at close to race pace and is fairly short, concentrated effort. They improve your agility (ability to change directions quickly), toughness (make those hills your best friend), and overall strength. We will typically do hill work on Fridays until race season be- gins. 

REPEATS/RACE PACE: These are run at the pace you have most recently run a 3-mile (Varsity/JV) or 2-mile (Middle School) race or the pace you plan to run in the next one. 

*All these paces can be adjusted with (+) or (-) to notate a middle range effort. 

The exercises listed below are to be completed on days that the schedule calls for a core workout.  Only complete 4 or 5 of the exercises each day.  Remember to adjust the time/reps to suit you.  The time/reps that are listed are only a suggestion.  You might need to do more or less depending on your ability.

Crunches:  Lie down on your back. Bend your legs and stabilize your lower body. Cross your hands to opposite shoulders, or place them behind your ears without pulling on your neck. Lift your head and shoulder blades from the ground. Exhale as you rise. Lower, returning to your starting point. Inhale as you lower.  3 sets of 20

High Crunches:  Same as crunches except your hand placement.  Instead of crossing your arms across your chest, straighten your arms and point them towards the ceiling.  3 sets of 15

Elbow Planks:  Start face down on the floor resting on your forearms and knees. Push off the floor, raising up off your knees onto your toes and resting mainly on your elbows. Contract your abdominals to keep yourself up and prevent your booty from sticking up.  30-45 seconds

Right-side Planks:  Lay on your right side with your forearm flat on the floor, right elbow lined up directly under your shoulder and both legs extended out in a long line. Feet can either be staggered for more stability, or stacked for more of a challenge. Engage your core and lift your hips off the floor, forming a straight line from your head to your feet. Your top hand can be on side of hip (easier) or reaching up to the ceiling (harder).  30-45 seconds

Left-side Planks:  Same as right-side planks except you should lay on your left side with your left elbow under you.  30-45 seconds

Leg Raises:  Lie on your back, legs straight and together.  Keep your legs straight and lift them all the way up to the ceiling until your butt comes off the floor.  Slowly lower your legs back down till they’re just above the floor. Hold for a moment.  Raise your legs back up. Repeat.  3 sets of 10

Bicycle Crunch:  Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground.  Put your hands behind your head, then bring your knees in towards your chest and lift your shoulder blades off the ground, but be sure not to pull on your neck.  Straighten your right leg out to about a 45-degree angle to the ground while turning your upper body to the left, bringing your right elbow towards the left knee. Make sure your rib cage is moving and not just your elbows.  Now switch sides and do the same motion on the other side to complete one rep.  Right elbow to left knew…then left elbow to right knee.  Repeat.  3 sets of 15

Scissor Kicks:  Start off lying down on your back with your arms by your sides, palms down pushing into the floor for support. Brace your abs and keep your lower back flat against the floor.  From here, lift both legs up to about a 45-degree angle from the floor, keeping them as straight as you can. Then, with control, lower one leg towards the floor as you lift the other leg up over your hips, as if your legs are the open blades of a pair of scissors. Slowly switch legs up and down in a scissor motion for the duration of the exercise.  2 sets at 20 seconds

Reverse Crunch:  Lie on your back, arms by your side with palms facing down to help create balance needed for the lift. Bend your knees at 90 degrees and lift your feet up so your thighs are perpendicular to the floor. Pressing into your palms and engaging your core, lift your hips off the floor as you crunch your knees toward your chest. Hold the crunch at the top of the movement, then begin to lower your hips, controlling the descent and not letting your back arch off the ground. That's one rep.  2 sets of 10

Windshield Wiper:  Lie on your back with your arms straight out to the sides. Lift your legs and bend the knees at a 90-degree angle. Rotate the hips to one side, without letting the legs touch the floor. Lift your legs and return to the starting position. Rotate the hips to the opposite side and repeat until set is complete.  2 sets at 20 seconds

*If the description above is not clear enough, there are plenty of example videos on YouTube.

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