Running cross country may be fun, but it’s not easy. Not only are you competing against your competition, but you’re also up against yourself. You need to be the best runner that you can be. When running, you need to be prepared for what lies ahead, as there could be anything in your path. There could be bad weather, rocks or holes in the trail, a steep incline, dirt and gravel, creeks to cross, you name it. All of these ailments are there to disrupt your rhythm and pattern. You don’t have these types of obstacles when running on a flat surface, which is why you must be prepared so you know how to deal with these types of disturbances. If you really want to be the best cross country runner possible, there are certain things you need to be aware of and things you must do to succeed. Here are some great tips for running cross country.
Choose good spikes
Grip is extremely important when it comes to racing on softer surfaces, so your choice of footwear is key. If you take running cross country seriously, you need to invest in a good pair of cross country spikes. These spikes tend to be more robust than those that you wear running track. The length of the metal spikes that you will need to use will depend on the condition of the course you’re running. For harder, grassy courses, 9mm spikes will do, however, 15mm will definitely be required when running in mud.
Walk the course
You should always walk the course before you run. Go days or weeks ahead of the race and practice by walking the course. You can always arrive earlier the day of so that you can familiarize yourself with the course to know what you’re up against. Many cross country courses are made up of laps so that you don’t have to walk the full race distance, but taking a look will make you a better runner. Getting a head start on what to expect of the course will also aid you in choosing the best spikes.
Get a good start
In order to make the most out of your run, you must be able to get out quickly and efficiently. Being left behind early on puts you at a huge disadvantage as the course narrows and passing becomes harder. You don’t necessarily have to be in the lead at first turn, however, you don’t want to be the last. You want to get yourself in the best position possible without straining yourself.
Run in the rain
Running outside, especially in the rain, allows you to deal with all of the elements that nature sometimes throws at you. Don’t wait until a nice, sunny day to go out and practice. Go out in every type of weather to get used to dealing with it. This isn’t suggesting that you go out in the middle of a thunderstorm or hurricane, but running in the rain and/or colder weather won’t hurt you, so it’s best to pay attention to the forecast so that you know what you’re up against.
Run up hills
Cross country means alternating elevation and you want to make sure you’re prepared for that challenging uphill grade and even running downhill as safely as possible. Your stride and posture will most likely change depending on elevation. When going uphill, you will shorten your stride and going downhill, lean forward and lengthen your stride. Spending time becoming better at going up and down is the best way to ensure faster race times.
Don’t worry about pace
The great thing about cross country is that it involves racing in its purest form. The time on the clock is not the most important thing, you’re simply trying to beat your competition. For this reason, you should position yourself to win by focusing on effort instead of pace. Your pace can vary a great deal depending on the terrain, so don’t worry about the stopwatch, but instead enjoy your run.
Just like any other sport or hobby that you want to excel in, it takes a lot of practice and hard work to be great at it. The tips mentioned above will aid you in becoming the best cross country runner possible. Many people run for fun, but for a lot of people, it’s more than just fun, it’s a passion that they take very seriously. I, myself, have a passion for poker as well as other card games such as 21 or Bluff and at first, I started out playing for fun, but I’ve graduated to participating in some of the biggest poker tournaments around with some of the world’s most famous players. I wouldn’t have reached this level without making it a priority and working towards getting better every day. This same mindset is needed when it comes to being the best cross country runner possible.