Tip: Expect one bad cross country race a season
One of the biggest differences between high school cross country and collegiate cross country is the number of races. Because high school cross country is only 5k in length many coaches have athletes race every week (whereas college programs run 6k, 8k and 10k and so they race less often). Even when coaches instruct athletes to run a race a threshold pace (rather than race all out) the bottom line is that virtually every high school athlete will have one bad race during the season because there are simply so many races. And guess what - it's no big deal. You don't lose fitness after one bad race and as long as you don't let a bad race get you down mentally, you can come back the next week and run well. The key after you have a bad race is to remember that you need to give your body some extra recovery - more sleep, good hydration and nutrition - for a couple of days following the bad race. You were likely worn down from school or training or both and you need to fully recover if you want to race to your potential. You may even need to run the next workout with slower runners, just to make sure you're running within yourself and not pushing too hard. One bad race over the course of a high school cross country season is to be expected, so don't worry if and when it happens to you.
*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.