The Five Most
Important Cross-Country Running Tips
Have a look at three important cross-country running tips to make the
most of your cross-country running season!
Want to get into cross-country running ?
Or are you a cross-country runner wanting to improve ?
Then read along and pick up some of my running tips!
running brings associations to me... rain, fog, wind, snow, cold hands
as well as mud, tripping over tree trunks, sliding, falling... in
other words, lots of fun !
And that's what it is, lots of fun. But you need to prepare for
cross-country running a little bit though.
So, in order to make the most of your cross-country running season,
have a look at the following cross-country running tips.
Cross-Country Running Tip #1: Do All the Regular
So, first of all, before getting into some specifics about terrain and
weather, let's just deal with the 'normal'
Now, your cross-country races are probably going to be 2 miles or
3miles/5k, depending on your age group and, sometimes,
So, what do you need to do to
get faster at cross-country?
There are basically three main running ingredients: easy running, tempo workouts and
intervals. You will want to do all three of them for
Also check out the video below which tells you more about the different
types of training and why you do them:
You will want to do a lot of easy running. Especially in the
off-season. Have you heard that quote that says that fall winners are
created in summer? Well, it's true!
Make sure that you cover plenty of miles in your off-season. Do mostly
easy runs, but push in the occassional tempo run.
Tempo runs are very important as you will want to be able to run your
race as fast as possible. Running at high speed, your muscles create a
nasty waste product when they work:
When they create too much lactic acid, your legs get heavy, and your
muscles basically have too much difficulty doing their job.
Tempo running helps improve the removal of lactic acid.
And then there is interval running. Many people focus too much on
intervals. They are important. At the right time of the season. They
are pretty much useless in the off-season. Your time is much better
spent doing easy running and tempo running then.
However, when the season starts to get into full swing, that's when you
will want to do your intervals.
For more info on the workouts above, please click the pics below:
Cross-Country Running Tip #2: Familiarize
yourself with the terrain
Running on the streets, you know, solid flat concrete, does not compare
to cross-country running. Running on the track even less.
Of course, you can do plenty of good running on the streets and on the
track. But, make sure you get
away from the street and track often enough and go find
Go find the
mud, the uneven terrain, the hills, the puddles....
When you want to do well in cross-country, it definitely pays off to
have done some trail running.
Cross-Country Running Tip #3 : Familiarize
yourself with the weather
In fall the weather starts to deteriorate.
Cross-country running weather is
often... well, not too good.
Wet and cold.
Getting ready for
cross-country running means getting ready for the weather as well.
Are you a runner who postpones the training session as soon as you hear
the weatherman thinking about clouds?
Hmm, you really want
to be a cross-country runner ?
So, get over it and start making sure you are running in bad weather
First of all, it is good to get the experience of bad weather
running already in your training and not in your race.
Second, I am sure you will find that running in bad weather is not
Even when it is really, really cold (below zero
temperatures), I find that I'll be sufficiently warm within as much as
seven, eight minutes of running.
And a bit of rain during the run is not a problem at all.
The only thing I really don't like is running in strong winds.
into the wind is a nuisance because it affects your breathing.
Melbourne we often get strong dessert winds.
You know that type of
weather that feels like they put a warm blanket over you?
winds feel like they are slapping hot blankets in your face
But does that stop me from training when it's windy? You have got to
be kidding me!
I make a point of going for a run, especially then. And during those
sessions I focus on my breath and on dealing with the
circumstances. A good run in the wind can really boost my confidence!
Another thing about running in bad weather is that you can do
a lot to protect yourself. There is plenty of good running apparel
When it comes to apparel, there are three things important in cold
Nothing will insulate you more against the cold, wet weather than
Cross-Country Running Tip #4 : Practice Tempo
In competitive cross-country running you often have to deal with sudden
There are often certain parts in the race where you have
to take it easy. Hilly, slippery parts. But when you get to an easier
patch, that's where you'll want to increase
And that's where your
competitors will try to get away from you as well. They
might want to break open the race and leave you struggling behind.
These tempo changes are
hard to deal with, especially when
during the race the lactic acid in your legs starts accumulating.
In order to prepare for that you need to train for it. Make sure you do
tempo runs. These will help you deal
better with fast-paced running and will make your body produce less
Secondly, do lots of tempo changes in your running training as well.
Be it in a structured pyramid-run, where you change
speed every 5 minutes or so, or be it in a more play-like fartlek
make sure you practice a lot with tempo changes.
And make sure you put
in lots of speedy running at the end of your training session when your
legs are heavy and painful.
What is that proverb again? Ah yeah : No Pain, No Gain!
Cross-Country Running Tip #5 : Know the Course -
I have been in races where you start in an open field for the first few
hundred metres and then disappear off into the woods where you find
yourself on small trails, very hard to pass people.
ask for a full-on sprint at the start.
You will need to be in as good a position as possible going into the
woods. Let everybody behind you deal with how they are going to pass
It's little things like that that can make the difference between you
winning prizes or not.
Make sure you do your homework. Learn about the courses you'll be
running on. Work out where you can make your move, where you'll have to
speed up, where it is hard to pass others, etc.
I hope these simple cross-country running tips help you make the most
of your cross-country running season.
Most importantly, enjoy being out there battling the conditions.
After each workout or race, give yourself a pat on the back for doing
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