Two-time Olympic Marathoner Pete Pfitzinger, the co-author of Road Racing for Serious Runners and Advanced Marathoning, is an exercise physiologist now living in New Zealand with his wife Chrissey and his daughters Annika and Katrina. Below are Pete's thoughts regarding pre-season and off-season training for high-school distance runners. Pete, who ran 9:15 for two miles as a 15-year-old in New York State, coaches several local runners as well as a number of Americans via the Internet.
Q: Do you recommend any formal speed training in the four to six weeks before the early competitive season begins?
A: One session of long race-pace intervals per week for four weeks is generally about right. It really depends on how long the competitive season is.
Q: What about road races in the off-season?
A: One or two road races can be helpful as a gauge of your fitness, but it is not a good idea to do more than about one road race every three weeks. This way you will build up a \"hunger\" for racing.
Q: Do you recommend that high-schoolers take some time off between track season and training for cross-country?
A: I generally recommend taking off 3-6 weeks after the track season for physical and mental recovery. Otherwise, there is a risk of losing enthusiasm partway through cross-country season.
Q: What are the most important off-season training elements for young runners?
A: The focus should be on building your aerobic base. Running as many days as possible is more important than speed.
Q: If there are things you would have done differently in your teen years, what are they?
A: I would have done more mileage in July and August and would have tapered more for the big end-of-season races.