I was asked today to define a workout regimen for a high school student interested in playing on the soccer team. They had a long list of things they have to be good at by next semester and a bunch dealt with distance running and endurance. Some of the others dealt with soccer skills and speed drills. I'm useless at defining soccer skill and speed drill exercises but I told them I could help with some distance running things. It's been a long time since I actively did any distance running but here it is the advice I offered based on my Cross Country running days.
make sure you stretch your legs, back, and arms out well each day. I can't really define stretches very well but make sure you stretch (without bouncing at all) do each stretch at least 10 times and hold each stretch for at least 20 seconds. Stretching should take at least 5-10 minutes
Everyday: Ab exercises
I basically suggest two exercises.. The first is the elbow hold crunch and the second is the flutter kick.
Elbow Hold Crunch - lay on your back with your legs bent at a 45 degree angle (just like if you are going to do situps) cross your arms behind your head so that you are holding your elbows with your opposite hands. Do a half sit up and flex your abs and focus on them. Hold that position for a count of 10 Mississippi. You should end up feeling a good burn in your abs; make sure you keep breathing. After the count of 10 lay back down and rest for no more than 2 seconds before doing the next. Do at least 10 reps. If you can't do each rep for 10 seconds just do each for as long as you can. Your whole body should be shaking as you do the last few. Once you can do ten without a problem increase the count to 15 and so forth so that the last few are always really hard. This will really work your upper abs and your lower back
Flutter Kick - you may hate me after this one and you have't even started running yet. lay flat on your back with your legs fully extended. Put your hands palm down under you butt. It will seem a little strange. Then lift your feet, without bending your knees, no more than 12 inches. Flutter your feet, as if you were swimming, up and down at a nice rhythm just as if you were counting 1,2,3,4 per second. Do this for one minute.. you will feel serious burn as you go you need to fight through the burn and keep doing it. Make sure you keep breathing and ignore the burn. Once you can do a minute without too much difficultly raise it by 15 seconds.. keep increasing the time as you improve up to no more than 3 minutes. This will really work your lower abs.
If you are eating a good diet of high fiber, complex carbs, and protein with low fat your abs and lower back will be amazing after 2 months. This is you're core and is the most important part of your body to have in good shape for any sport.
400 yard/meter dashes - get a stop watch for this one.. Now go to a high school track and get ready to run as hard and fast as you can for a while. I don't know how fast to expect so run one 400 as fast as you can.. Don't worry about pacing or anything just run your heart out and see how fast you go. That's your baseline, write it down, remember it. After you run that lap walk a lap, just a normal walking pace. You'll feel like crap but you can't lollygag around the track on the walk; but hold your hands over your head and walk (no lying down!) You might want to throw up.. go ahead and then walk around the track. If you threw up drink a little water then add ten seconds to the time you ran and run again, ten seconds is a huge boost and you should be able to do this if you pace yourself. Walk another lap. Now add five seconds to the second runs time and run again. Walk a lap then add five seconds and run again. Repeat that process until you have run 6 laps and walked six laps. At this point you will have run 1.5 miles and walked the same and you'll be worn out. Now just cool down (five minutes of stretching) and you'll be done. Drink some water.
Run for distance - no watches needed just go out and run at a casual pace (not trying to set any marathon records here) it's best to run with others if you can. Stay on non-busy streets (i prefer streets to the park but this is up to you). Run at least 3 miles (40 minutes?) but the more the better. After the first 2 weeks should be running at least 5 miles (still 40 minutes); remember this is a light jog so you should never be breathing too heavy. If you are you're running too fast; with one exception. If you're running with someone else at least once every half mile you should challenge another person in your group to a quick sprint race of about 50-100 feet (say, "I'll race you to that blue car parked ahead on the right") and you both run your butt off as hard as you can. Then you start jogging again, slower than normal pace if you need to let the others in your group catch up. If you have a group of five or more then you should just call out a random member of the group for a sprint whenever you feel like it - its ok to get the same person twice in a row but never do it to the same person three times in a row during the same half mile. Ideally the run will bring you back to where you started. Again do five minutes of warm down and then you're done. Each time you do this try to add more distance; you'll be amazed at how much further you are able to run in the same amount of time.
2 mile run - go back to your track and get ready to run eight consecutive laps; that's two miles. Try to run it as fast as you can. You need to learn to pace yourself so that you don't use up all your energy on the first mile. This might take around 20-25 minutes, I don't know.. If it's faster great.. It will get faster each week so long as you pace yourself properly. Try to minimize the amount of up-and-down motion in your run, try to extend your stride to a max comfort amount and relax your hands to avoid shoulder cramping. When you're done running walk a lap to cool down then do five minutes of stretching.
Hills - Find a good sized steep hill. Ideally it will be over 100 yards long. Here you will start by running up the hill as fast as you can. Time it. It will be exhausting but push yourself up the hill and keep on breathing. When you get to the top don't stop, just turn around and walk back down. Do that four times (each subsequent climb should take no more than 3 seconds longer than the previous) then walk back up the hill. Now you need to run down the hill and walk up it. Run down it four times (timing the first and then adding 3 seconds at most for each subsequent descent). You want to continue to extend your stride on the way down the hill but don't lose control of yourself, don't go faster than your comfortable with. You work your legs in an entirely different way going down hill than you do going up. Don't do downhills if it is raining; just do 2 more uphills. When you're done stretch for five minutes.
Ideally when you have to go to a hill or the track you'll jog there (instead of driving) don't take a day off just because it's raining. You get the weekends off. After the first day you will end up pretty sore and that soreness will get worse during the first week. It will go away and you'll notice you are getting better at everything.. If you can keep this up for the entire summer you will not only be able to play soccer without getting tired but you'll be able to run cross country and do pretty darn well at it.