My daughter Amanda decided earlier this year to try out for the high school cross country team (even though she isn't in high school yet). She made the team and her times are getting better and better.
I picked up this book to read about "real" XC training and mindset. This book describes a year in the life of the Colorado University men's XC team. It is a bit dated since it chronicles the 1998 season but running is running. Adam Goucher (he later married Kara Grgas who has had her own racing successes) is the featured member of the team.
It is sometimes hard to relate based on how many miles these guys were doing at the paces that they were doing them at. It was also hard for me, as someone who lives at or close to sea level, to understand the impact of training at altitude. In my vast understanding of training, ahem, I can't see how the mileage (sometimes >100 miles/week) can be beneficial due to the wear and tear on bodies. If one has the time and ability to do this without getting hurt, great, but injuries, like you know what Forrest, happen. I hurt even thinking about their volume.
The concept of peaking for a race, in this case the NCAA XC championships, is something that I can bring to my training. Understanding that "B" or C" type races without a lot of tapering may not bring the same results of a full taper "A" race will help me rationalize how training load affects performance.
Even at this level, workouts were mostly individual. The plan was constantly tweaked based on performance, injuries and the ability of the athlete to handle the training load. That's something I agree with strongly.
I found it a quick read and it made me think about training, racing, and recovery. Of course, I had to google the team to see how the season ended before finishing the book but that should have been expected.