Elite High School Cross-Country Training – Get Faster and Build Your Endurance

High School cross-country running can be intimidating, panic-inducing and plain scary. Some people quit the team after only their first training session. Others become convinced that running is not for them and simply give-up. Most never think to research tactics that can make them better, faster, and competing at an elite level.

The good news is, you can significantly improve your speed, endurance, and strength if you follow these basic training tips that I was fortunate to receive from my coaches. This post will cover Elite High School Cross-Country training tips that will help you to improve your speed, endurance, and strength tremendously.

Follow These tips and you will get faster, build endurance, and feel comfortable, confident, and positively better about your running ability.

Before You Read: Please Do not do these exercises and drills if you are not in good health. If you are out-of-shape or new to running, please start out slow and pace yourself. Do not overwhelm yourself.

4 Basic areas of Focus

This post will not overwhelm you with many ideas and concepts that will confuse you like most sources do. My goal is to give you what you need and I will keep it simple and to the point.

There are four main areas that you need to concentrate on. This elite high school cross-country training post will focus on these four areas. They are

  1. Speed
  2. Strength
  3. Endurance, and
  4. Diet


Training to improve your speed is critically important. It is unfortunate that a lot of runners ignore speed training while training for cross-country. Speed is perhaps the most important thing to train on. Fortunately, speed is also one of the easiest and to some people most exciting training.

There are a few drills you can work on to significantly improve your speed. Here is one that works really well.

You need

  1. a timer,
  2. comfortable running shoes and
  3. a positive attitude.

You can also bring a friend preferably another runner if you wish to.

You then need to find a flat field or a running track. Avoid rough and uneven surfaces because they can be hard on your joints and can cause injury.

Again this training is really intense and don’t do it if you have any health issues. If you are out-of-shape or new to running, start slow and only do these drills when you are ready.
FIRST! you need to WARM-UP by doing a quick jog followed by a good stretch. DO NOT SKIP the WARM-UP.

After warming-up, you should start the routine by comfortably jogging for about 400 meters (1 lap on a track). After the lap, time yourself as you SPRINT as fast as you can for another lap. Give it everything you got!

Then you can jog comfortably for about three hundred meters then walk the final 100 meters.

Only time yourself for the lap that you sprinted.

Rest 3 to 5 minutes then repeat the routine for a minimum of 3 times and maximum of 6. While you rest don’t sit down, hydrate and keep moving.

Do speed training at least twice a week.

After doing the drill stretch, drink plenty of water then eat a healthy diet when you get home.



Endurance is the area that separates cross-country from most sports. Endurance is what cross-country is known for. You can be good in a lot of other areas but if you do not have endurance, you will never be a successful cross-country runner. Endurance has a little to do with physical capabilities and a lot to do with mental toughness. You need to be comfortable and confident with your endurance ability.

Most Cross-Country Courses are around 3.1 miles (5 Kilometers). Some are as short as 2.5 miles.

Some people like training for endurance while others not so much. I personally really enjoy endurance training; I find it really satisfying.  If done right, endurance training can be really fulfilling.

Do a quick warm-up and stretch before starting your endurance training. Make sure you have your water. You can also have your music or bring friends along if you wish to.

You need to run at least 4 miles for endurance training. I currently run 20-30 miles for my endurance training but it took me years of training to get there. Make sure you are running at a comfortable pace that is not too fast. Keep increasing your distance as you get more comfortable. Run different routes to keep challenging yourself and to keep your training interesting.

Do whatever you need to do to keep endurance training engaging. If listening to music is your thing get cordless headphones and something to hold your phone and water. You can also run with friends. I Use an app that update me on my distance and speed as I run.

Do endurance training at least twice a week.


Strength is the easiest thing to train on and if you are having a tough week, you can skip strength training. However, strength training can give you a competitive edge and that is why I have included it in this elite high school cross-country training post.

For strength training, you need a gym or dumbbells. Keep in mind that you are not a body builder and you are not trying to gain huge muscles.

Lift a comfortable amount of weight that targets different muscle groups throughout your whole body. Nothing too crazy. Do light weights and high reps. Aim for 12-15 reps of comfortable weights. Do not forget your legs and abs. But go easy on your legs because those are your assets.

Do this training once a week.


Diet is fuel to your body. Cross-country runners burn a lot of calories and you need to eat a lot of food to replace the lost energy and recover.

Avoid eating food high in sodium like fries or high in fat like ice cream. Eat healthy food and whole grain food if possible.

Eat food throughout the day in small portions. This will improve your metabolism and prevent stomach cramps.

After a training session or a race eat enough food to help you recover. Runners often get really hungry following a race and that is their body communicating to them.

You can also take healthy shakes and sports drinks post workout if you wish.

Most importantly drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated.

Final Thoughts

There are many other tips that can help you improve your speed and endurance. However, a lot of people overwhelm themselves with many ideas and concept that they forget to focus on the important things. That is the reason why I haven’t included these tips in this elite high school cross-country training post.

Don’t confuse yourself. Focus on the important areas that I have listed above. Modify them accordingly to make it fit your life and your style of training.

By following these tips, you will significantly improve you speed, endurance, and confidence.

Cross-country can be really fulfilling and my high school cross-country years were one of the most happiest years of my life. There is something about being a part of a team and competing with a common goal.

Use these training tips to get faster, build endurance, and feel better. Don’t forget to have fun with it.

If things get a little too much, take a break and get right back when you are ready.

Good Luck and have Fun!









  1. This is really cool. I have a soon that just made the cross country team and his first meet is coming up. He feels nervous, but excited for the challenge.
    He has always been a good endurance runner but never took time out to actually train and work on his body. Now that he is on the team, he wants to get serious and commit to becoming a better runner.
    So this article was exactly what I was looking for because I don’t know to much about cross country. Great article, definitely sending this link to my son.

    • Glad to help. Keep supporting and encouraging him, and tell him to have fun with it.

  2. This is a great article, well written. My daughter is trying out for cross country this year at her high school. She is a freshman and this is the first time she is trying out for this. I personally didn’t have much advice for her on this, so I was so happy to see this article. We didn’t realize that strength played such an important role in cross country. She is going to add weight lifting once a week to her training now, since reading your article. She is very nervous about the try outs, but feels better since reading your article. Keep writing, this article helped more then you know. Thank you!

    • Glad it was helpful. Strength training can be very beneficial to ensure she is competing at an elite level. Its totally normal to be a little bit nervous. I know she’s gonna have a really good time running.

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