Soccer players often run sufficiently during the season such that they might not need additional time on the track. They play in scrimmages and matches, and participate in skill drills. Thus, running training plays more of a role in soccer players' off-season and preseason. As a coach, you can present your players with training plans so they can arrive close to game-fit for the start of the season.
Dedicate three days a week to running training. On Monday of weeks one to four, sprint 50 meters and jog 150 meters for eight sets. Increase this program to 12 sets in weeks five to eight, and 16 sets for weeks nine to 12. On Wednesday, run one mile each of the first two weeks, two miles the next three, three miles the next two weeks, four miles on the next two weeks and three miles the final three weeks. On Fridays, jog for 30 minutes the first two weeks, increasing to 45 minutes by weeks 10 through 12.
Keep your athletes running in the preseason, recommends certified strength and conditioning specialist Ryan Lee of SportSpecific.com. Set running training for three days of the week, ideally Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Players can warm up with a jog of a half- to a full mile, a full-body stretch, three 30-meter repetitions of high knees, heel-glutes, carriocca and speed striders. Have players bring their knees up to hip level while moving forward for high knees. They can touch their heels to their glutes quickly while moving forward slowly for heel-glutes. Carrioccas involve moving sideways while swiveling the hips and arms. Speed striders require running with an exaggerated foot and arm motion.
Your players should perform three sprints of 30, 60 and 90 meters, with a 45-second rest between each, on Monday and Friday of preseason work weeks, Lee recommends. On Wednesday, have them run a speed-endurance pyramid, running distances of 50, 100, 150, 200, 150, 100 and 50 meters. Let the players rest for three times as long as it takes them to run a segment — taking a break of 1 minute, 30 seconds after they run the 150 meters in 30 seconds. Have them complete a second pyramid.
In week two of preseason, the players can increase running training to five sprints of 30, 60 and 90 meters, and in week three, six sprints, again on Mondays and Fridays. On Wednesdays, have them do the speed-endurance pyramid with a 2:1 rest ratio in weeks two and three, and repeat the pyramid a second and third time, Lee recommends.
On the Sports Fitness Advisor website, strength-and-conditioning specialist Phil Davies recommends fartlek running, a form of interval training developed in Sweden, for soccer-specific training. Run for 20 to 30 minutes at different paces, including sprints, slow jogs, backwards runs, walking and repeating new, random combinations. Aim for a level 7 throughout the session, if 1 is a walk in the park and 10 is a stomach-wrenching slog. Build up over a period of weeks to more intense sessions as the players become fitter.