Cruise Intervals – 6 x 800, 8 x 800, 8 x 1000 (depending on the age and fitness of the runner)
I prefer the cruise intervals over the tempo runs for most high school runners; it is a great team building workout and the workout is set up for everyone to succeed.
Prior to the first time our team runs this workout, there is a slow summer build-up of mileage. This workout is not attempted until our team has maxed out our minutes of running.
The Varsity Workout
Our top runners will run 8 x 1000 with 40 – 62 seconds of rest. The different rest allows us to run our top 7 – 10 runners together, and gives the runners some flexibility to adjust their practice based on how their body responds. We are fortunate to have a grass campus with some room to run, and our track is circled by our cross country course. The breakdown of the 8 x 1000 workout is the first six 1000’s are on the course, and the last two 1000’s are on the track (standing recovery between all intervals). All of our workouts are “waterfall run” — run slow to fast, meaning that we always run our final intervals at a greater speed than our initial intervals.
Our top girls at the end of this year were at a 6:09 mile pace (based on Daniel’s chart for a 17:45 5K) for a tempo run (the cruise interval replaces the tempo run). They start the 1000’s at a 6:20 pace. The next fastest group starts at a 6:40 pace. Both groups run on the same “watch”, which is operated by our top group (the workout is athlete led). The slower group starts first and the faster group starts 12 seconds later – both groups finish the 1000 at the same time. The next interval will begin after 40 seconds of standing rest for the slower group. (The faster group has an additional 12 seconds of rest). We will typically run 2 – 4 at the first pace (e.g. 6:20), 2 – 4 at a faster pace (e.g. 6:00), and the final two 1000’s on a good day are at an even faster pace (e.g. 5:40) on the track.
The top group will end up running just under a 6:09 pace over the eight intervals (the two on the track give the runner the feeling of running faster because they are on a quicker surface) for about 30 total minutes of running.
Our JV groups will do similar workouts of 8 x 800 or 6 x 800 in the same manner as above.
In Pennsylvania, it is often hot and humid when school starts and it is very tough to do fast running. The first time we do this workout with 8 x 1000 is typically the first day of school, and our top group (6:09 pace) will start at 7:00 or 7:20 mile pace. They are not strong enough yet to run a 17:45 5K, and the hot running weather slows them down. If it is really hot and the runner is not sure if they can run faster, they may elect to stay at the slower pace for the entire workout, or just increase speed for the last two intervals on the track. The workout is set up so that the athletes can rely on each other and feel success by completing the workout. We typically run this workout 3 times during the season, each time starting at a faster pace. The workout pace gets faster because of the cooler weather, and the better conditioning of the athletes as the season progresses.