All runners want to run their best at the most important races on their schedule. In high school cross-country, this could be the league meet for some teams, the state qualifying meet for other teams, or the state meet itself. Regardless, most runners have heard the term “peaking” and want to “hit their peak” at that race. I think too many high school runners worry about peaking, thinking that they either need to do something special to peak or that peaking is a narrow window of opportunity that they might not time up right. Rather than focus on peaking, let me suggest that you focus on running to your potential each race of the championship season. Why? Because if you’ve trained all summer then you have a good foundation of fitness; if you’ve done good aerobic work each week of the season, then you should be able to run your fastest in these final meets, without any special workouts or special “peaking” adjustments, other than the adjustments your coach has already made. Most programs tend to run a little less mileage during this phase and run some faster, snappier workouts. This should allow you to feel more comfortable in the first mile of a 5k race…which will allow you to run the fastest you’ve run this season in the remainder of the race. So don’t worry about peaking, but rather take a deep breath and feel good about all the work you’ve done up to this point. As long as you get good sleep, hydrate well and keep your stress to a minimum in the final weeks of the season, you’ll likely run your best races of the year.
*Coach Jay’s advice is provided as general training information. Use at your own risk. Always consult with your own heath care provider for questions relating to your specific training and nutrition.
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