3 km Cross Country Running

by Lisa
(Melbourne, Victoria, Australia)

I used to run cross-country at primary school and always make it to zones but then not get very far!
So, in high school I didn't bother going to the cross-country team.
But, now at age 16, I have decided to start again. I have run district and to my suprise, I came 4th and will be running zones in 6 weeks!

I have never trained for running!

I was wondering what are some tips for running 3 km?

How many times a week should I train?

For how long?

What intensity should I run?

Also, when competing, is there a certain strategy I should follow. eg, do I run fast and take the lead at the start of the race?

Just things like that in general I would like to know!

:) I would be VERY appreciative if this can be answered!
Thank you!

3k cross country running

Answer by Dominique:

Very happy to try and help!
First of all, congratulations on your results so far. It sounds like you have a bit of a talent for running.

In terms of how much to train.... it is very difficult to tell without knowing what you currently do (running or otherwise). If I'd tell you to run at least three or four times a week and run at least x kilometres per day without knowing what your body is used to or knowing if you could handle that there would be a serious risk of injuries.

You are still young and growing and therefore there are even greater risks in taking on too much at the same time and getting injured before your key race.

With that in mind, my general advice would be:

1. Lots of easy running with a little bit of fast stuff
2. Maybe a few time trials
3. Aim for an even race

Lots of Easy Running with a Little Bit of Fast Stuff

Definitely do not suddenly start training like a maniac, but focus on easy running, at the pace at which you could have a conversation and possibly one session a week which is a bit faster (e.g. tempo running and/or fartlek / speed play).

Some useful links that will help you further:

Base Running - On why easy running is so important.

Running Workouts - Different running workouts / paces explained.

Maybe a Few Time Trials

It might also help to do one or two time trials, i.e. run the distance of the race as fast as you can, as much as possible like the race conditions. This way, you will know and can experience how long it is and how fast you should be going to maintain speed for the full 3 km.

Aim for an Even Race

3k cross country running
As far as race strategy goes....

Try to run an even race. By that I mean run your first kilometre about as fast as your last.

Other thoughts: I would definitely not pick the lead at the start of the race. You run the risk of wearing yourself out quickly and going too fast for your own good.

Instead, if possible (I don't know the speed/strength of your competition), run your own race based on your own abilities.

It would be great if you could stay with the main group. You can then maintain the oversight over the leaders, and if somebody wants to speed up or run away you are (hopefully) still close enough to get them.

However, if they seem to be tearing away from you, don't get stressed. They may burn themselves out, they may just be a level above you and trying to stick with them is not going to work anyways. Run your own race.

If at all possible make sure you know the course you are going to be running. This way you know how long it is, where the hills are etc and you'll know at which point you are close to the end, so that you can give it your utmost in the last few hundred metres.

Lisa, I hope this helps a bit. Above all, stay healthy and injury-free over the next six weeks and just try to enjoy your training and your race. It is fun to test yourself, to train for something and try to improve and it is fun to do races. Even if you do not end up at the top, just be happy that you got to run and experience it.

Best of luck.

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