For the student-athletes out there, being prepared for your athletic season is not something you can do a few weeks before the season starts. Getting stronger, improving your level of play, and being in top athletic condition is not something you can cram for like an exam. It takes time, hard work, and a consistent effort to be at your best.

 

adolescent athletes, injuries, teenage athletes, injury risk, sleep and injuryThis means you need to be able to play your sport for a couple hours each day, starting with pre-season practice all the way through until your season ends. The goal is to play at peak performance, injury free, plus handle a full academic course load, family, friends, and other interests. All of this requires an exceptional level of physical readiness and needs to be addressed year round.

 

This article is specifically geared towards getting conditioned for your sport, but first, let’s look at what I refer to as the five main components of physical fitness. The following components should be focused on all year long to ensure you are in peak physical condition when your season starts:

 

Components of Physical Fitness

 

  1. Muscular and Bone Strength: The amount of tension that can be created by a muscle when it contracts, or in the case of bones, tendons, and ligaments, it is the amount of tension that can be withstood before an injury occurs. This means that a safe, efficient, and effective strength training program should be adhered to two to three times each week and should be performed with a high level of effort.
  2. Cardio-Respiratory Endurance: The ability of the heart and lungs to provide oxygen and nutrients to the working muscles during intense exercise in an efficient manner. Many sports are “stop and go” and involve multiple sprints at a variety of distances and speeds. This requires a solid aerobic foundation as well as a strong, healthy body.
  3. Nutrition: Eating nutrient dense foods that will aid in repair of the body’s many cells, as well as fuel an active lifestyle. What you put in your body is what fuels your performance and health, so you need to eat nutritious foods. As the old saying goes “garbage in, garbage out.”
  4. Flexibility: The range of motion around a specific joint as well as the surrounding muscles and connective tissue. Improving flexibility helps prevent injury, increases performance, and helps reduce muscle soreness.
  5. Rest/Recovery: The need for the body and mind to recuperate from hard work. Having “down time” is a factor in helping achieve your goal of a high-level of fitness and should not be taken lightly. It is not, however, a license to just hang around for days doing nothing.

 

Keep this in mind - the level of fitness that you attain is directly linked to the effort you put into all areas mentioned above. “Hard work is the price we must pay for success.”

 

Conditioning Guidelines

 

adolescent athletes, injuries, teenage athletes, injury risk, sleep and injuryPrior to pre-season (approximately 12 weeks before reporting to your first practice) you will slowly start your running program. Over the course of several weeks, you will build up your cardiovascular system to withstand long runs, as well as different sprinting distances and times. Do not go out and run every day right from the start. This can cause overuse injuries that can linger and do more harm than good. 

 

Whenever possible, try to run on soft or forgiving surfaces – grass or flat area beach sand are two of the best. If you are going to run on the road, be sure to change your route often to save your shins, knees, hips, and ankles from the repetitive stresses incurred. Make sure you are wearing good running shoes that are appropriate for you.

 

Phase 1 - 3 Weeks

 

The purpose of Phase 1 is to get you back to running on a steady basis so you can develop a solid aerobic foundation, get your legs used to running, and work on your running mechanics. This phase also helps your body get used to the pounding before you add more stress to it with sprinting and the twists and turns associated with playing a sport. Through this phase you will develop an efficient heart and lung system, which will increase your endurance and improve your recovery capabilities. You should be able to run at least a 10-minute mile to start, so you should cover about 2 – 2.5 miles at each run.

 

  • Week 1: Run 2 times on non-consecutive days for approximately 20 minutes. 
  • Week 2: Run 3 times on non-consecutive days for approximately 20 minutes. 
  • Week 3: Run 3 times on non-consecutive days. Days 1 and 3 run for 20 minutes. Day 2 run for 30 minutes. 

 

 

Mon

Tue

Wed

Thu

Fri

Sat

Sun

Week 1

20 min run

 

 

20 min run

 

 

 

Week 2

20 min run

 

20 min run

 

20 min run

 

 

Week 3

20 min run

 

30 min run

 

20 min run

 

 

 

Phase 2 - 3 Weeks

           

You should easily be running a 10-minute mile average by now, so the purpose of Phase 2 is to push your aerobic capacity and improve your time/distance with each of your runs. Phase 2 has you working up to running on consecutive days. This will help you get passed the discomfort of running with sore legs and improve your aerobic capacity further. 

 

  • Week 4: Run 3 times on non-consecutive days. Days 1 and 3 run for 30. Day 2 run 20 minutes.
  • Week 5: Run 3 times this week. Days 1 and 2 will be back-to-back run days. Run 30 minutes on day 1 and 20 minutes on day 2. Take 2 days off and run 30 minutes.
  • Week 6: Run 3 times this week. Days 1 and 2 will be back-to-back run days. Run 30 minutes on days 1 and 2. Take 2 days off and run 30 minutes.

 

 

Mon

Tue

Wed

Thu

Fri

Sat

Sun

Week 4

30 min run

 

20 min run

 

30 min run

 

 

Week 5

30 min run

20 min run

 

 

30 min run

 

 

Week 6

30 min run

30 min run

 

 

30 min run

 

 

 

Phase 3 - 3 Weeks

 

Phase 3 starts the anaerobic/speed training that is needed for your sport. This phase is critical because it develops the specific energy system the body depends on to execute the repetitive movements involved in your activity. As with Phases 1 and 2, you will ease into this segment. Keep in mind that all sprints, regardless of the distance, should be performed as an all-out effort.

 

  • Week 7: Run 4 times this week. Days 1 and 3 are interval days. Days 2 and 4 are recovery runs. Days 1 and 3 are 30-minute runs with ratios of 1:1. This means you run for 10 minutes as a warm-up, then sprint for 1 minute, jog for 1 minute, sprint for 1 minute, jog for 1 minute, etc. for 20 minutes (10 cycles). Days 2 and 4 are recovery runs and they will be regular runs for 20-30 minutes. Run days 1 and 2 back-to-back, take a day off and run days 3 and 4 back-to-back.
  • Week 8: Run 4 times this week. Days 1 and 3 are interval days. Days 2 and 4 are recovery runs. Days 1 and 3 are 25-minute runs with ratios of 1:2. This means you run for 10 minutes as a warm-up, then sprint for 30 seconds, jog for 1 minute, sprint for 30 seconds, jog for 1 minute, etc. for 15 minutes (10 cycles). Days 2 and 4 are recovery runs and they will be regular runs for 20-30 minutes. Run days 1 and 2 back-to-back, take a day off and run days 3 and 4 back-to-back.
  • Week 9: Run 4 times this week. Days 1 and 3 are interval days and days 2 and 4 are recovery runs. Days 1 and 3 are 20-minute runs with ratios of 1:3. This means you run for 10 minutes as a warm-up, then sprint for 15 seconds, jog for 45 seconds, sprint for 15 seconds, jog for 45 seconds, etc. for 10 minutes (10 cycles). Days 2 and 4 are recovery runs for 20-30 minutes. Run days 1 and 2 back-to-back, take a day off and run days 3 and 4 back-to-back.

 

 

Mon

Tue

Wed

Thu

Fri

Sat

Sun

Week 7

Intervals

30 min run

 

Intervals

30 min run

 

 

Week 8

Intervals

30 min run

 

Intervals

30 min run

 

 

Week 9

Intervals

30 min run

 

Intervals

30 min run

 

 

 

Phase 4 - 3 Weeks

 

Phase 4 brings you into the home stretch for preparation for your season. This phase is important in that you build the ability to handle a volume of intense work. Keep in mind that all sprints, regardless of the distance, should be performed with an all-out effort. Sprint distances should be performed with “game-time” intensity and conditions since most sports are not of specific time/distance. It is also recommended you wear the proper foot attire that you will be wearing for your sport, so if that means running in specific sneakers or cleats, do so to get used to the difference your running shoes offered.

 

  • Week 10: Run 5 times this week. Days 1, 3, and 5 are Fartlek interval days (a Swedish term that means “speed play” with intervals performed at random bursts of speed and recovery) and days 2 and 4 are recovery runs. Days 1, 3, and 5 are 20-minute runs with a 10-minute run as a warm-up, then sprinting for random time/distance with as little recovery as needed for 10 minutes. Days 2 and 4 are recovery runs with your “tool of your trade” for 20-30 minutes. This means if you play basketball, dribble your basketball while you run. If you play field hockey, run with your stick. If you play baseball, run with your glove. Get as “game time” ready as you can.
  • Week 11: Run 5 times this week. Days 1, 3, and 5 are Fartlek interval days and days 2 and 4 are recovery runs. Days 1, 3, and 5 are 20-minute runs with a 10-minute run as a warm-up, then sprinting with your sticks for random time/distance with as little recovery as needed for 10 minutes. Days 2 and 4 are recovery runs with your “tool of your trade” for 20-30 minutes.
  • Week 12: This is a back off week that leads into pre-season. Run 3 times this week. Days 1 and 3 are 20-30 minute casual runs and day 2 is a 30-minute run with ratios of 1:1. This means you will run for 10 minutes as a warm-up, then sprint for 1 minute, jog for 1 minute, sprint for 1 minute, jog for 1 minute, etc. for 20 minutes (10 cycles) with your “tool of your trade.”  

 

 

Mon

Tue

Wed

Thu

Fri

Sat

Sun

Week 10

Intervals

30 min run

Intervals

 

Intervals

30 min run

 

Week 11

Intervals

30 min run

Intervals

 

Intervals

30 min run

 

Week 12

30 min run

Intervals

 

20 min run

 

PRE-SEASON

 

Good luck getting ready for your season and let us know how it goes!

 

Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.