Alex Ostberg (CT): Summer Training Blog

<p> <span style="font-size: 14px;">As part of the&nbsp;</span><strong style="font-size: 14px;"><a href="">Saucony 500 Mile Challenge</a></strong><span style="font-size: 14px;">&nbsp;campaign, MileSplit is asking several of the nation&#39;s top returning cross country runners to share with us in a blog format a weekly post of their summer training as they prepare for the upcoming 2014 XC season. What greater inspiration for developing high school runners than to see how their elite peers train and push through logging those summer miles, while staying motivated and hungry to get in the base and conditioning needed for their next season and year of races. Follow along and become fans of these great high school runners as they start the first step of their journey into a 2014 cross country season which they hopefully reach all their goals that they set out to accomplish.</span></p>

One of the top returning runners from the Northeast region of the country is Darien High School (CT) rising senior Alex Ostberg. Ostberg is coming off a fantastic end to his outdoor season in which he won the New Balance Outdoor Nationals 5K title in a new PR time of 14:16.61. Ostberg also ran under 9 minutes for the first time in the 3200 with a runner-up 8:52 performance at the Loucks Games in New York in early May. Last fall, Ostberg was a runner-up at the New England Championships and finished his season with an 11th place All-American showing at the Foot Locker Nationals in San Diego. Ostberg is certainly a threat to not only win the Foot Locker Northeast Regional this year, but also to should be up in the mix for first place at Balboa Park in December.


Week 1 (6/30-7/6) - Week 2 (7/7-7/13) - Week 3 (7/14-7/20) - Week 4 (7/21-7/27) - Week 5 (7/28-8/3) - Week 6 (8/4-8/10) - Week 7 (8/11-8/17) - Week (8/18-8/24)

June 30-July 20 Summary

After the outdoor season wrapped up for me at New Balance Outdoor Nationals I shut down my training for 2 weeks. During the long sustained outdoor season beginning in March, it was crucial that I devote myself fully to every aspect of training to perform at my peak ability. Once the season concluded, I found it very important to take some downtime to decompress and forget about running briefly. Transitioning into summer training, my coach and I discussed following a similar training program as last year, because we like to stick with what's working for me.

My summer training plan is essentially an 8 week buildup of intensity and mileage to the beginning of the school year. I've always been a "lower" mileage type guy, because a few year ago I was very susceptible to injuries.  Every week I'll be running 6-7 days, and occasionally I'll replace a 7th run with a session on the elliptical machine to reduce the impact while still getting the aerobic benefit.  

The training program builds up from about 35 miles to 60 miles per week.  The important factor that I'm juggling with this year is that my biggest races won't be for many months down the road (November and hopefully into December).  It's difficult to maintain a high level of focus and intensity for nearly 6 months, so I'm planning on keeping the mileage high into the school year, rather than hitting a peak now and then backing off in September.  

The other important facets of my training program are hills, fartleks, and long runs. I've learned over the years that hills are not only good for working on the rolling terrain you find in XC, but they also improve your form, strength, and power.  Nothing can replicate the same type of fatigue that running hills gives me.  The fartleks have been another key workout that I've focused on in past years. For me, a fartlek runs cover a broad spectrum from more of a structured workout of  2 minutes hard/1 minute easy or something like a progression run where I start slowly and dramatically pick up the pace.  I like to make sure that everything I do in training has some correlation or benefit to my racing, and hills and fartleks are very applicable to what I may feel or encounter in XC.  

Finally, like every distance runner, I try to go out on a long run (anywhere from 9-13 miles) once a week.  Aside from the physiologic benefits, I think it puts you in the right mentality for cross country.  Sometimes the XC races seems to drag on for too long, and doing a long run helps the 5K seem much more manageable.


So far this summer I've trained for 3 weeks and have totaled 118 miles. I kept my mileage lower initially to avoid picking up nagging aches and pains like shin splits.  After 2 weeks when my body adjusted back to the running, I felt comfortable increasing the mileage and beginning the harder efforts.  I would typically follow each run with barefoot running or barefoot strides, core, light plyometrics, or some stretching.  My goal is to continue to work on my form over the summer through drills and exercises so that I will enter the XC season as durable and efficient as possible.  That sums up my first few weeks, in future weeks I'll continue to keep posting updates, and I'll have more of a day by day breakdown too.

Week 1 (6/30-7/6)

The purpose of this week was to just get my body adjusted to running. I didn't do any hard efforts, I just focused on making the transition from resting to training as smooth as possible. 

Monday 6/30: Easy 4 miles with some core work afterwards
Tuesday 7/1: 5 miles easy with form drills after with an emphasis on backwards running
Wednesday 7/2: 4 miler on hilly terrain followed by another 10minutes of barefoot running. 5.5 total
Thursday 7/3: 5.5 mile run, very hot and humid today, so pace was naturally slower
Friday 7/4: Progression run on the treadmill. Started out easy and then each mile increased the incline and pace. Ended at 5% incline. Averaged 6:36 pace.
Saturday 7/5: 25 minute elliptical session followed by a full body strength circuit lasting about 45 minutes
Sunday 7/6: 5 mile run (flatter) averaging 6:22 pace. Followed the run with active isolated stretching and foam rolling.
Week 1 Total: 31 miles
Summer Total: 31 miles
Week 2 (7/7-7/13)
Did a fun summer series race on Tuesday, which was my first real effort of the summer. I went on an awesome vacation to Norway to visit my Dad's side of the family for a total of 10 days, beginning Thursday. This week I began to feel adjusted but I still kept the intensity lower for the most part. I started to double this week (only once) just to get my body used to it because later this summer I plan on doubling more often. 
Monday 7/7: 6 mile night run followed by 6 barefoot strides
Tuesday 7/8: Cross country summer series 2 man relay.  3 miles total, split into 1 mile increments. Averaged just about 5:00 pace for all reps, but the mile reps were run poorly--very positive split. Course was slightly long and had a lot of tight turns. Won the race with a teammate of mine. 
Wednesday 7/9: 6 miler early in the morning. Felt terrible because I forgot to eat breakfast before leaving. I'll learn from my mistake here! Form drills afterwards. 
Thursday 7/10: Arrived in Norway for a family vacation today. Did a 6 miler after I got off the plane. Felt tired and thirsty, but still managed to run about 6:10 pace. 
Friday 7/11: 3 miles with my brother in the morning, easy pace. Quick 4.5 miler in the evening before dinner. Closed the last mile pretty fast, unsure of the pace though. 
Saturday 7/12: REST DAY
Sunday 7/13: 6.5 miler followed by 6 20 second strides (uphill). Tried to stick to the dirt roads and trails today. 
Week 2 Total: 38 miles
Summer Total: 69 miles
Week 3 (7/14-7/20)
Workouts began this week. As mentioned earlier, the workouts I emphasize in the summer are hills and fartleks, and I did those two this week. Feeling good, but know that I have a long way to go and many, many more workouts in-front of me before I come close to peak shape in the fall. 
Monday 7/14: 7 miles of fartlek running. Did 2 mins hard/1 min easy on rolling terrain. The latter part of this workout was tough, but I hunkered down and toughed it out. Since this is effort based, it is a nice mental break from track repeats, yet I wish I could have a bit more of a concrete idea of what pace I was going. I would estimate around5:00-5:15 pace for all reps. The 1 minute rest is the killer here. 
Tuesday 7/15: 50 minute run, sticking to trails and dirt roads today. Discovered a new trail today, so that was fun. 
Wednesday 7/16: 5 miles AM, 5 miles PM. Pushed both a little more than I should have, which left me feeling a little worn out after my second run. 
Thursday 7/17: 6 x 350m (I think) hill. Starts gradual and then gets very steep by the top. Last rep was brutal, but it was still my fastest one. I'm planning on adding on one more rep each week I do hills.
Friday 7/18: 7 mile "tempo." Got carried away with the pace today. Hit 5:38 pace for the 7 miles and felt strong. 
Saturday 7/19: 4 mile run before getting on the plane to leave Norway. Just enjoyed the scenery and didn't worry about the pace.
Sunday 7/20: 7 mile run, with 5 minutes of barefoot running after. 6 barefoot turf strides focusing on form. Did a good core workout afterwards.
Week 3 Total: 46 miles
Summer Total: 115 miles
Week 4 (7/21-7/27)
This week was good. It was not very pleasant to return to the US and get hit the the oppressive heat and humidity once again. Started to add on some weight training this week. This was something I started last outdoor season and saw great results. I know many runners believe in less weight and more reps, but I've developed more power and speed by doing higher intensity lifting and lower body workouts. In addition to the weight training I'm making an concerted effort to focus on ankle stability and mobility, something that is important for XC when your running on uneven surfaces. 
Monday 7/21: Treadmill progression run. Increased pace and incline, similar to the last one I did three weeks ago. Averaged 6:28 pace. 
Tuesday 7/22: 55 minute run, easy pace with 3x200 afterwards on the grass. 
Wednesday 7/23: 6 x 400m hills. Very hot and humid today and unfortunately I forgot to bring water. Some guys also starting cutting down trees and blocked the road so I had to cut the workout after 6 reps instead of 7. Oh well. Weight training in PM.
Thursday 7/24: 4 miles AM. 3 miles PM. Easy pace, hilly terrain. 
Friday 7/25: REST DAY
Saturday 7/26: Did a hard weight training and plyometric session in AM. 70 minute long run in evening, probably around 6:45 pace. Did some barefoot running afterwards
Sunday 7/26: 7 miles of fartlek running. Decreasing ladder of 3min/2/1 hard with 1 minute recovery in-between. Did that 3 times, for a total of 27 minutes worth of fartlek running. Warmup and cooldown brought run to 7 miles. 
Week 4 Total: 45 miles
Summer Total: 160 miles

Week 5 (7/28-8/3)

This week I was fortunate enough to be invited out to Beaverton Oregon for the Nike Elite Camp. It was an amazing and unforgettable experience. I was able to get to know and train with some of the best distance runners in the country. Nike put on a great show for us and one of the coolest parts of the week was seeing some of the elite athletes such as Rupp and Centro. It was a great way to get pumped for the upcoming XC season!

Monday 7/28: 6 miles AM on trails and grass, easy pace. 4 miles PM hilly terrain. 

Tuesday 7/29: EZ 4 mile recovery run on the roads. Drills and barefoot running after. 

Wednesday 7/30: 6 mile around the nike campus with Hannah Debalsi and Mikey Brannigan. Easy pace followed by a pickup the last mile with Mikey. 6 barefoot strides after

Thursday 7/31: Track workout with Alberto Salazar. 2 x (600,400,300,200). It was hard to hit the actual splits, pace was almost always too fast. I didn't kill it, considering my speed is not very important at this time of year, and just tried to stay consistent. Only really pushed the last rep, closing the last 200 in 25.9 seconds, so that was fun. 20 minute cooldown. 6.5 miles on the day. 

Friday 8/1: 8 mile run at Mt. Hood. Ran at altitude today, which was a new experience for me. The trails we ran on were beautiful with a great view of the peak. One of the nicest places I've ever run no doubt. 

Saturday 8/2: 3M "Race" in morning. Ran with John Dressel, kept the pace easy the first lap (1.5 miles) then cut the pace down to 5:05-5:15 the second loop. Finished in 14:55. Decent effort, but more of a tempo than a race. PM: Aqua Jogging workout

Sunday 8/3: Travel Day, didn't have time to run

Week 5 Total: 44.5 miles
Summer Total: 204.5 miles
Week 6 (8/4-8/10)
This week was just a continuation of the work that I'd been doing all summer. I increased my mileage to above 50 miles for the first time, and I intend to keep increasing that a bit more and stay above that 50 mile threshold for many weeks into September and October.

Monday (8/4): Easy 35 minute run followed by 6x200 meter pickups. Core and form work afterwards

Tuesday (8/5): 25 minute tempo AM, ran this one of the basis of effort not time, I'd guess pace was around 5:35 pace. 30 minute run PM. Strength workout afterwards.

Wednesday (8/6): 5 mile run AM, pace was moderate. 4 miles in the evening, easy pace.

Thursday (8/7): Today I did a fartlek workout. I did a 10 minute slow warmup and then did 8x2min hard followed by 1 min easy. In this workout I did tempo effort for the first minute
and then picked up the pace to a controlled sprint the second minute. I did this because in this type of fartlek workout, I've found that I've gotten very fatigued by the end because I exerted too much energy early on. This method was very effective for pace control. 10 minutes cooldown

Friday (8/8): 5.5 mile run, weather was insanely hot, heat index was 107, was planning on going longer but simply couldn't because of the heat.

Saturday (8/9): 4 miles AM, 3 miles PM. Morning run was just to get moving, mostly for recovery. The evening run was a progression run on hilly terrain.

Sunday (8/10): 75 minute long run. Pace was around 6:40. Stuck to mostly grass and trails today. Strength workout in evening focusing on hip extension and glute activation.

Week 6 Total: 52.5 miles
Summer Total: 257 miles

Week 7 (8/11-8/17)

This week was another week of building my mileage up. I had a great hill workout, and I actually did a 100 mile relay race with some teammates. I am really beginning to feel like all the different parts of my training are starting to complement one another. The strength aspect and the hill work really helped me get through the hilly sections of the 100 mile relay. And the fartleks and tempo runs have given me an excellent grasp of pacing. 

Monday (8/11): 7 mile evening run at 630-645 pace. Barefoot running and strides on the grass afterwards

Tuesday (8/12): Hill workout AM. 8x400m hill with minimal recovery. Pace got faster each rep. Felt stronger than last hill workout. In the evening, went for a slow 4 mile jog.

Wednesday (8/13): 4 mile recovery run. Weather was really rainy, so kept the run shorter.

Thursday (8/14): 7 miler on rolling terrain. Did one pickup the last mile and hit sub-5 pace. Did some strides working on form after on the turf.

Friday (8/15): 30 minute cardio session in the fitness center in VT. In total hit 4 miles. Did some stretching and foam rolling afterwards.

Saturday (8/16): 100on100 relay with teammates. First leg was uphill (gained almost 800 feet in elevation over 5 miles). Was able to maintain 5:45 pace. Second leg hit 5:15 pace on flatter terrain, got some bad stomach cramps unfortunately. Then on the last leg of the race (I was the anchor) I hit about 5:13 pace for 5 miles on hilly terrain. Overall, the day left me exhausted, but it was something I would definitely do again.

Sunday (8/17): Rest day. After hitting close to 17 miles yesterday, I'm giving my body a few days at really low intensity to recover from yesterday, but also to freshen up for the start of XC.

Week 7 Total: 50.5 miles
Summer Total: 307.5 miles

Week 8 (8/18-8/24)

This week I used to just get ready for the official start of cross country. We typically do 2 workouts and a time-trial the first week of school (because we don't have races yet) so I wanted my body to be rested for that. My easy runs were very easy this week, but my quality sessions were still hard.

Monday (8/18): 8.5 miles easy recovery day. Legs are still a little beaten up after the relay I did on Saturday.

Tuesday (8/19): 4 mile recovery run

Wednesday (8/20): 5 mile progression run. Started at 7 minute pace for a couple miles, then picked it up to about 6 minute pace by the end. Hilly terrain.

Thursday (8/21): Hill workout. 8x400m hills. I hovered around 78 seconds for the reps. Closed in a 72 which was a good way to simulate kicking. Workout was effective because I took no rest in between reps at the bottom. Once I got to the low-point, I turned around and went right back up. Barefoot cool-down. 7 on the day.

Friday (8/22): 5.5 mile run AM on the trails. 3 mile evening run.

Saturday (8/23): First official day of XC! Did a 10 miler today, on both pavement and trails. First few miles were slow, probably 7:30 pace but pace averaged around 6:50 by the end. Core and hip workout after. Good to be back with the team again.

Sunday (8/24): 7 mile run @ 6:55 pace followed by 6x100m strides. Core session in the weight-room after.

Week 8 Total: 52 miles
Summer Total: 307.5 miles