High school cross-country coaches often are faced with the challenge for preparing summer workout plans for a variety of different running levels.

Center Grove boys coach Howard Harrell said the staff tries to customize the best they can to tailor for individuals, who have different mileage levels.

“We have some guys that have aspirations of going to the state meet and then we have some guys who are just going to be happy being on the team,” Harrell said. “So, obviously, you can’t have the same workout for both of them. One won’t be trained enough and another will be too much. One would be injured and one would get their goals. The art is grooving kids to different levels together, having them train at the same time as everyone else is training.”

Harrrell said the teams runs in a 3-mile loop, and some boys might do it two times and some might just do 1½ loops.

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“That way I can still see them and monitor them but they are all doing their own different workouts,” Harrell said.

“When we have these groupings it makes it easier,” he added. “They still feel they’re a part of a team and getting a lot out of it individually.”

Center Grove girls coach Wes Dodson said the team runs four days per week.

“Usually you increase mileage every week during the summer,” Trojans senior runner Rachel Chan said. “There is usually a progression from two miles, to two-and-a-half miles to three miles.”

Chan kept to the schedule even during a recent vacation to Orlando.

“The hardest part is it’s really hot, so I had to wake up really early to run,” Chan said.

The Trojans have a three-day team camp at Spring Mill State Park, near Mitchell.

“We do a total of four workouts and we camp out,” Chan said. “It’s really fun. I think the bonding is almost more important than the workouts. But Spring Mill is pretty hilly, so the workouts we do can be pretty tough.”

Dodson said his runners typically don’t attend college camps.

“Mostly because I want to keep track of what they’re doing,” said Dodson, who is in his 16th season. “We start off slow and build up throughout the summer.”

Harrell doesn’t oppose his runners attending, but he said usually the runners enjoy running with their teammates and not camp members they don’t know.

Greenwood boys and girls coach Blaine Williams said the Woodmen run four mornings a week and two evenings in June, then add another morning in July.

“I learned cross-country (training) from Debbie Guckenberger, who coached here for a lot of years, because I was a football coach,” said Williams, who was Greenwood’s freshman football coach for eight years. “I came into this really not knowing anything. In one year as her assistant, I tried to learn how to do it.”

After one season as coach, Williams took over after Guckenberger took the girls basketball coaching job at Brownsburg.

“When she left, I didn’t try to reinvent the wheel, I adopted her training philosophy as my own,” Williams said.

June is all about building base mileage. In July, Williams said there is speed and interval training.

Williams said two of the top boys runners, senior Lucas Oskins and junior Ethan Pine, have a slightly different routine than the others.

“For the most part, we try to keep everyone on the same page,” Williams said. “A lot of our guys are self-motivated on their own and they want to do more on their own just because they want to get out and run and get more miles underneath them. If there is a guy who runs a little extra, I’m fine with that as long as he’s not running 10 miles Friday night before we race on Saturday morning. If he wants to add a little more on Tuesday or Wednesday night, by all means go for it.”

Williams said for several years the team went to camp at McCormick’s Creek State Park in Spencer. Franklin College men’s and women’s cross-country coach Paul Sargent invited the Woodmen to camp at Franklin College. Zionsville will join the Woodmen in the camp, which began Sunday and ends Wednesday. They will stay in dorms, not tents.

“Paul has done a really nice job of putting together a schedule I think is going to be really good for the kids,” Williams said. “The camp will focus not only on our running, but focusing on character and team bonding.”

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Mark Ambrogi is a sports correspondent for the Daily Journal.