I usually recommend that the HS runners take 3 weeks off after Bolder Boulder. The state track meet is the week before that. I like to have them run Bolder Boulder as they should be in good shape for a solid long race at that point. Then the 3 weeks can be a great regeneration time before the year begins.
That said. I usually recommend weeks of about 70% of the total distance that they were doing during their track racing schedule. That should not be overly taxing distance wise. Pace is completely conversational. I usually use a 3 week build-up adding 10% per week. The 4th week is then 80% of the 3rd for a recovery week. A runner like Anguel Tolev or Bradley Harkrader is running about 80 mpw by early August. I encourage them to then run the Georgetown to Idaho Springs ½ marathon. Notice I said run. It is not an all out race. The summer before Bradley’s junior year he started at 7 minute pace through ½ way then dropped the pace to sub 6 on the downhills.
The HS season starts early in Colorado. The first “team” workouts are in mid-August with the first races the last week of August. I recommend that the runners keep their distance up through all of September. It is really only a two month season, with State being contested the last Saturday of October. To go to state the runners or their team have to do well in Regional competitions one week before state. So that is the targeted first week of “key” racing.
I need to explain that I do not make any attempt to control what the runners do with their HS coaches during the week. The HSers I work with get more than enough anaerobic and speed work from the start of the season. I tell them that no matter what the workout is on a given day, that they MUST complete one hour of running each day. I tell them that time includes warm-up and cool-down. I tell them to be sure to cover 2 miles as a warm-up and fill in whatever time is lacking for the hour in their cool-down. I’ve had kids actually have to run 4 and 5 mile cool-downs because of the low volume of work the coaches are giving them.
I do check in with the runners weekly. I make sure that during the month of September that they are doing 2 workouts per week of high intensity anaerobic work. To me, this means they are doing some work at their current race pace with short recovery between them and something with an eye toward their season goal, which is typically to be run at the Regional or State final. If they are not getting the work I think well progress them to their goal, then I have them run the workouts they are missing on the weekend. Yes, even though they could workout as a team on one day of the weekend, some of the teams do not. If they do, I tell them to run longer than being requested by their coaches. I had one girls team that would meet on Saturday, but the coaches only asked them to run 30 minutes. I had them running at LEAST 90 minutes. I find that the first few years, they do not handle weekly 2 hour runs particularly well. So I do a weekly long run rotation of 90, 105 and 120 minutes. They do the last one of these the first weekend of October. This allows them 3 weeks before their key race. This is unfortunately the end of the season if they do not qualify for state (top 15 individuals and top 4 teams go on).
Once the transition to October is complete. I drop the daily run quantity to 30 to 50 minutes depending on the runner. Some need more recovery than others. As an example, Janna ran 21:50 last year as a sophomore. Allison her teammate ran 19:37 for 36th at state. Allison ran all summer, about 45 mpw average. She had also run 11:25 last year for 3200 at state. Janna was more like 12 flat. Janna ran 3-4 days per week over the summer. Unfortunately, she tried to run with Allison on Allison’s easy days. This left Janna tired, all the time. Her races showed it. She would go out in 6:40 and then fall off to 7:20s. So we dropped her to 30 minutes a day, with strides over the last 2 weeks of the season. She was able to PR on a slow course Friday with a 20:37. That was over 1 minute faster than she ran all season. By comparison Allison ran 19:07 (4th fastest time this year, fastest 18:57). Allison will run state then prepare for Footlocker Regionals. She is a junior and we want her to run it this year, even though she is not likely to go to Nationals. Having the experience will help her next year, when I expect to see her contend for a ticket to San Diego.
So, with that in mind oasis. I would recommend a similar approach for your cross country season. Mileage all summer. Let’s say you are planning to run Team Nationals in November (week before Thanksgiving). I’d have you transition to anaerobic work in mid-September. 6 weeks of 2 anaerobic workouts per week. One something like 6 x 1 km at your current race pace for 5 km with a 2 minute (or 400m) recovery between each. The second would be something like 800s at your goal pace with equal recovery time to your run. When you legs start to feel tired, the workout is completed. That could be after 2 of these or it might take you 6 or 8 depending on the day. Other days are comfortable runs with one day of either a race, or a threshold run. No speed work other than 4 x 100 strides (mile effort) after 2 of your easier runs.
I would mix the anaerobic work up based on how you felt/looked doing the paces set out. If you can run your current pace for the 6 times 1 km and not looked like you are overly-taxed, then the next workout would be shorter distances with more recovery to stimulate your speed, but still not what I call speed work. Let’s say you are a running a 28 minute 8 km and want to run 27 at the end-of-season “key” race. So your 1 kms at 3:25 are achievable with little discomfort. The next workout I might say do 16 x 400 with 1 minute between at 75-77. And when I would see your form go, or tell you when your legs get that rubbery feel, the workout is over.
During the highly anaerobic phase, I like to drop total distance for the weeks about 10% to accommodate the increase in speed. Once we have 6 weeks of that completed, then I drop the distance to 70-75% of the average for the last month of base work. I increase the efforts on our anaerobic days to more goal pace orientation, less distance efforts (i.e. time trial like 1 ½ to 2 mile efforts with something like 4 x 400 at 70 with a full 400 between these.
Hope that helps. If you have questions, you can either respond here, others like to see the discussion, or to me directly if you are not wanting to do your training approach on the net. Good running!!