Want To Stink This Winter? I Have the Answer


Catchy title? This article is for all you parents who are trying to help your kid get in shape for a winter sport. I spoke with a mom the other day who inspired me to write this. There is a saying I use often in my talks. It is in fact the title of this article.

If you want your child to perform poorly this winter I have the answer. The answer is cross country. I have had countless parents over the years tell me that they can’t figure out why little Janie or Johnny had such a bad winter sports season. They worked so hard in the fall, running all those miles.

Lets get some facts straight. There are no team sports where you run for miles at a time. Even if you actually “run” miles in a game, those miles are actually a series of sprints interspersed with a series of walks or jogs. In the case of a rare sport like ice hockey, you actually sprint and then sit down. Running long distances does not prepare you to run short distances. There is a concept in sport called sport specific training. The concept basically means that from a conditioning perspective the best way to condition for a sport is to mimic the energy systems of that sport. If the sport is sprint, jog , walk, than the training is sprint, jog , walk. Makes perfect sense

There is another very large concept to grasp here. It is simple. Train slow, get slow. The reality is it is very difficult to make someone fast and very easy to make someone slow. If you want to get an athlete slow, simply ask them to run slower, longer. Simple. They may be in shape, but it is the wrong shape.

Another problem with a steady state sport like cross country? Injuries. Did you know that something like sixty percent of the people who take up running get injured? Those are really crappy odds.

Last and certainly not least, who dominates in sports? The fastest athlete! The athlete with the highest vertical! Yes, conditioning matters but, train for the sport.  Lift weights, jump, sprint. Gain power. It takes years to gain strength and power. You can get in shape in a matter of weeks. Most kids are playing their sport at least a few times a week in the off season so strength and power are much bigger concerns than conditioning.

So this year, don’t give the gift of slowness, If you are not a cross country runner, don’t run cross country. If you like a nice outdoor run and don’t care about speed, be my guest. If you want to get faster and get in great sport condition than train the way the best athletes train. Use a combination of strength training and interval training to prepare properly.

29 Responses to “Want To Stink This Winter? I Have the Answer”

  1. […] You’re using the wrong program.  Mike Boyle said it best in his article “Want to Stink This Winter?  I Have the Answer.” If your goal is to run cross-country than, by all means, run cross-country.  But, is your goal […]

  2. mboyle1959 Says:

    Diane- the truth is that no activity causes injuries in people like running does. The entire field of sports medicine actually was born as a result of the running boom in the seventies. Your daughter is in a good program and you are lucky. Thank her coach when you see him/ her.

    Sorry about the ambiguous term “like”. The bad thing about blogging is that you do it quick.

    For the best in Boston area sports and personal training go to http://www.bodybyboyle.com. For the best in performance enhancement information go to http://www.strengthcoach.com MBSC was recently named one of America’s Top Gyms By Men’s Health Magazine and was voted Boston’s best personal trainers for 2011.

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  3. I am certainly not arguing the percentage of injuries, just stating that using the term “like” does not give confidence to the reader. Injuries are inherent in any sport, and running can cause quite a bit of injuries, especially if they are not training properly. I would have to say, with their running team (approx. 75 kids) there have only been 4-6 injuries in the past year or so. None of these injuries prevented any of the children from running in the next meet (a week or so of rest was all that was needed). But yes, I am sure there are quite a few injuries with running. As with soccer, volleyball, football, etc.

  4. mboyle1959 Says:

    Diane- sounds like she is in a good program, you are lucky. As for sixty percent look for a study by Jones et al. I’ll try to find the link. It was actually on military recruits. I think 60% injury might have been males. Females might actually be higher.

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