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I've pondered that at times. Another variable was that he played basketball so there was not as much of a loss as there might have been otherwise.Denny, what do you estimate is the amount of benefit gained from XC season that is then lost during the winter season before track? (i.e., 5% gain during XC followed by 3% decline during winter?)
Short answer to your insightful question: I don't know.
After basketball season I held him back during the early season due to him having shin splints. If the cause was going from soft surfaces to a hard surface I wanted to give him some recovery. He was/is a smart guy who felt strongly that his "tank" was full. In response I had him do high-volume weight work and his running was confined to stationary running in the pole vault pit, plus some AirDyne work to tolerance, often using arms only. My reasoning at the time was to take a chance on maintaining or, hopefully, increasing capillary development.
We are making strides in understanding the complex interplay of energy systems and the like where running is concerned. Over the last couple of decades there have been compelling arguments against things like LSD for sprinters, for example. I fully acknowledge those studies and realize that coaches, trainers, and researchers far more intelligent than I have come to those conclusions in a very dutiful manner, hoping to advance performance and not simply to dispel other methods. Since I lack access to certain advantages I am more visceral at times. Some athletes respond to dogma while others don't. I am convinced that coaching and training are more art than science.
I am open to research and methodology that improves my performance and that of my athletes, yet, I have a decades of experience that have boiled down to things that I know work and that's what I draw from the most.