Cross Country Summer Training: the 411 on Girls Training

Many athletes find they can only attend a small portion of summer training for cross country due to family vacations, camps, other sports, jobs, and family obligations. Since they miss out on so much of the important base building, here is a look at some of the training that athletes have used to excel in the off-season and prepare for a great cross country season!

High School Girls


Many freshmen come into the summer off-season having run middle school track or club track. If that is the case, most athletes are looking at a starting point of 15-20 miles per week during the month of June, 20-25 miles per week during the month of July, and a peak at about 28-35 miles per week in early August. A typical week often looks like this:

Monday: recovery mileage (starts at 3 miles, ends at 5 miles by the beginning of XC)

Tuesday: recovery mileage or workout (starts at 4 miles, ends at 6 miles including the warmup and cooldown)
Wednesday: recovery mileage (3-5 miles)
Thursday: recovery mileage or workout (4-6 miles)
Friday: recovery mileage/easy run (3-4 miles or cross training)

Saturday long run (starts at 5 miles, ends at 7 or possibly 8 miles)

Body weight training, core, and hip strength are also a great piece to add in for overall strength improvement. 

If the incoming freshmen are brand new to running, they may start with lower miles around 10 miles per week and ending at 20-25 miles per week by the start of the season. This is similar for any newcomer with very little running background.


Returning sophomores who ran track will often start the summer off-season around 20-25 miles per week and try to get up to 33-38 miles, some maybe approaching the 40 mile range if they have a running background. With the same kind of weekly setup as the freshmen, the biggest difference is added mileage each day, including on the warmups and cooldowns for workouts. Recovery runs will often be in the 4-5 mile range and workout days will be in the 6-7 mile range by the end of the summer. The long run will generally start at 6 or 7 miles and end around 8+ miles depending on the ability of the athlete. They may also be able to handle a little more weight training than incoming freshmen.  


Returning juniors who ran track will generally start the summer off-season around the 25-30 mile range and try to get up to about 40-45 miles per week by the end of the summer. Warmups and cooldowns are often a little longer, and the long run will generally start at 8 miles and end between 10-12, depending on the ability of the athlete. Recovery runs are normally 5-6 miles and workout days are generally 7-8 miles total. Weight training, core, and hip strength are also a huge factor in training at this point. 


By senior year, athletes should be able to start the off-season training around 30-35 miles if they kept their mileage up during the track season. They should reach anywhere from 40-50 miles by the end of the summer, depending on their ability level and whether they are more injury prone or not. Their biggest area of mileage growth is in recovery runs and the long run. Their recovery runs should start around 5-6 miles and end around 7, possibly 8 miles. Their workout days should be around 8-9 miles (1.5-2 mile warmups and cooldowns, and workouts of 4-5 miles). The long run should be anywhere from 10-13 miles. Weight training should be happening around twice a week, core work should be 4 or 5 days a week, and hip strength exercises should be at least twice a week. 

Bare in mind that these are VERY generalized mileage plans, though every single athlete requires unique changes and adaptations to their training. Each athlete is different and can handle different training, so please know that this is not an end all be all, but rather a general guide that athletes can use to help structure their summer training if they are unable to do so with their coaches. Cross training is an incredibly helpful tool during the summer months for athletes who are very involved or may not be able to safely get out and run on while on vacations or mission trips/camps.