How To Train For Cross-Country Races
Autumn and cross-country running season will be here soon! Here’s how to start training for cross-country races.
Have you ever raced a cross-country running event?
They’re not just the domain of school running teams and your local running clubs. More and more cross-country and obstacle type races are springing up in the racing calendar and are a great way to freshen up your approach to running.
Get The Correct Kit
If you’re going to race cross-country, particularly if the courses are likely to be wet and muddy, you’ll need different running shoes. Trail shoes, cross-country shoes or even proper cross-country spikes may be in order. If you can, get down to your local running shop and let them help you choose the best shoe for the type of race you’ll be doing.
If you just want to train off-road rather than race cross-country, you could use your existing road shoes. Just bear in mind that they will offer less grip and less stability (and you could quickly wreck them if you start running on a lot of mud!)
Seek Out Hills
Cross-country races are characterised by two things: mud, and hills. You need to get used to running uphill and downhill, learning the best techniques for ascending and descending. By including lots of hills in training, you’ll adapt your cardiovascular fitness, your leg strength and your stride technique to powering uphill and to descending smoothly and confidently.
Know The Rules
When you’re training for cross-country races you’ll inevitably head out into the countryside, so make sure you’re aware of the countryside code, know how to read ordnance survey maps and have a grasp of the unwritten etiquette rules when it comes to horse riders, cyclists, dog walkers and wildlife.
If your cross-country training runs take you off the beaten track, remember to tell someone where you’re going and how long you’ll be. Wear a Cram Tag or other running ID tag and take your phone (although remember you may not always be in a good reception area).
Join The Club
Lots of people find cross-country running races a much more positive experience as part of a team. Local running clubs tend to send groups of runners to local league cross country races. Even if you don’t want to take part at that level just yet, you can join in on the weekly cross-country training sessions and unofficial races and time trials. They’re an incredible way to boost your fitness, blast calories and sky-rocket fatloss. And they’re much easier to get through in a team atmosphere!
Have you raced cross-country? Would you? We’d love to hear your experiences and tips for cross-country running.