Joan and her husband, Marc, are in their 4th year of coaching cross country at Loudoun Valley HS, in Purcellville, VA. For 10 years in the 1980’s and 1990’s, Joan coached at James Madison HS and South Lakes HS, where she and Marc had the privilege of being Alan Webb’s 9th grade coaches. During this time, they coached numerous state qualifiers and a handful of state champion relays and individuals.
After an 8 year hiatus from coaching while raising their many kids, Joan and Marc started a youth running club, NOVA Athletic Club, which enabled them to be involved in the sport without the huge time demands of high school coaching. However, once their son Drew began running in 9th grade, the Hunters saw his potential and wanted to ensure he would have every opportunity to develop, so they began volunteering at Loudoun Valley and eventually took over the distance program spring of Drew’s sophomore year.
The Hunters have led the Viking boys XC team to 3 consecutive state team titles, and 3 Viking boys (Drew Hunter, Peter Morris, Sam Affolder) have won the last 6 individual state titles. In 2017, the Viking boys scored 15 points at their state meet- something no Virginia team has ever done. That team went on to win the 2017 Nike Cross Nationals. Drew Hunter qualified for Foot Locker in 2014 and 2015, winning in 2015. Last year, Peter Morris qualified for NXN. The Viking girls have been state runners-up in XC for the last four years, have had one individual state champion (Natalie Morris, 2017) and have had one individual girl, Ciara Donohue, qualify for Foot Locker in 2014. In track, the Viking boys have won 2 outdoor state team titles. Last year, in Loudoun Valley’s first full official indoor track season, the Viking boys were state runners-up. Other important wins include the 2016 NB indoor nationals DMR and the 2016 Penn Relays DMR.
Key mid-season workout: CV reps plus hills
Warm-up (Ebbett’s drills, posture check, joint rotations, lunge matrix, runner’s touch, 100 ups, heel flicks, easy jog about 800 meters, skips, strides, and dynamic flexibility). 10 mins of running plus 3 mins tempo. All this takes about 30-35 minutes.
1st season kids:
8 mins easy run, then 2 mins at tempo effort.
4-6x 800 meters at CV pace, with 90 second jog recovery (about 175 meters or so, I don’t worry about how much ground they cover.)
3-4x 200 meter hill, mile race effort, with easy jog down for recovery.
Easy run till they get to 55-60 minutes, total time.
Veteran, but non-varsity level kids:
10 mins easy run, then 2 mins at tempo effort
5-6 x 800 meters or 1000 meters at CV pace, with 90 second jog, same as above.
4x 200 meter hill, same as above.
Easy run till they get to 60-70 minutes, total time.
Varsity level boys and some girls (freshman girls would do 800s or a mix of 800s and 1000s, most girls have 90 sec jog recovery)
10-12 mins easy run, then
5-7x 1000 meters at CV pace, with 75 second jog (about 175 meters)
4-5x 200 meter hill, same as above.
Easy run till they get to 65-70 minutes.
CV, or Critical Velocity pace, is about 90% of VO2 max pace. We estimate this using our kids’ current 5K race times, or a time trial in the early season. We also adjust the times based on what we think they could run the day of the workout, based on weather, terrain, etc. We use Tom Schwartz’s pace calculator: http://runfastcoach.com/calc2/index.php
Typical varsity week of training, late September, early October, no race that week:
Total mileage for my top boys was about 60-67 miles, depending on doubles. My top girl was about 55 miles on single runs, and my other girls were between 38-45 miles on single runs (freshmen were less.)
Monday: 50 mins easy
Tuesday: AM: 20 min morning jog for some boys. PM: 10 mins easy then 3 mins at tempo. 6x 1000 at CV pace, 75-80 second jog recovery. 10 x 10 second hill reps, fast, with walk downs. Easy run to 70 minutes total if they did not do a morning run, 60 mins if they did.
Wednesday: AM: 20 min morning jog for some boys. PM: 40-55 mins easy recovery, depending on whether they did an AM run, how they felt, and who they were.
Thursday: 30 mins easy, 8x 100 meter strides on the turf with jog back recovery OR 8x 20 second pickups with 40 seconds easy in between, about mile race pace, then easy run till 50 minutes total. I gave kids the option. My middle distance oriented kids usually choose the 100’s, and my future 10K stars usually pick the fartlek.
Friday: 10 mins easy, then finish with 3 mins tempo/threshold pickup. Then, 25 minute tempo/threshold progression run. We started at tempo pace using Tom Schwartz’s calculator as a guide, then about 3 miles in, worked the last part of the run faster, at threshold pace. Some younger, or more middle distance oriented girls did a broken tempo of 2 miles, 2 min jog, tempo again till they got to 25 mins. After the tempo, easy jog about 5 mins to a hill, then 6-8x 100 meter hill reps, starting at mile effort and finishing at 400/800 effort. Easy run to 65-75 minutes, depending on who they were.
Saturday: 7 day a week runners: 40-50 minute easy recovery, optional shake-out strides, athlete’s choice. 6 day a week runners: Long, very easy, run, 70-90 minutes, depending on the athlete.
Sunday: Long run, 90 mins easy for most of my varsity kids. 6 day a week runners who were varsity had a day off.