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Cross country running – what is it and how to start? Helpful tips 

Publish date 13.09.2022

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Cross country running – what is it and how to start? Helpful tips 

Do you want to test your endurance, intestinal fortitude, and strength? If your answer is yes, then a great way to do it is cross country running. This is a really demanding challenge that will either make you love cross country running or the opposite and you will not do it again or you will take part in it once in a while. 
However, before you decide to do such a run it is important to know what it really is and how to prepare for it. This is what I will introduce to you in this article. Are you interested? Read on! Let’s go! 🙂

What is cross country running?

I want to challenge myself, and it sounds quite interesting, but what is cross country running?

This was probably your first thought when you heard about a run that could test your strength and endurance. Chances are, you have an idea in your head about it. Cross-country running is a run through sand, forest, mud, river etc. 

It is an ideal workout for people who like extreme challenges and nature. It is what creates the obstacle course for the runner to overcome. This challenge can be undertaken by any athlete, no matter what kind of running you specialize in. However, it is necessary to prepare for it properly.

Cross country running – what does it consist of?

As you already know, cross-country running involves overcoming obstacles that occur in nature. It is nature that creates challenges for you to overcome. 

I am strong, I will beat everyone and finish the run with the best time in the first place.

I must tell you right away that this approach to cross-country running is wrong. Don’t be mad at me. I understand that you want to achieve the best possible results, but that’s not what this is about. Cross-country running is all about fighting against yourself, your weaknesses, your psyche, and nature. 

On your route you must prepare for: 

  • narrow paths, 
  • mud and slippery surfaces, 
  • abrupt turns, 
  • changing surfaces – grass, mud, water, stones, 
  • pushing with other competitors 
  • changing the rhythm of running, 
  • trembling arms and legs from exertion. 

As you can see, it is not a simple run. Therefore, you need to realize that it is not the result that is important. You have to overcome many obstacles to reach the final line. 

Be prepared for fatigue in your whole body. Your body is certainly not used to this type of effort, changing the bluntness and speed of running.

Cross country running in the woods at day

What cross-country running really looks like?

As you’ve noticed before, it’s not a typical, steady run on a straight and smooth surface. 

Here’s what a cross-country run might look like:

you run → you slow down at a turn → the road narrows, so you run into other runners, pushing through → you start running faster again, but another sharp turn appears on the road – you slow down → you run into the mud, which dirties your shoes → then you run into a puddle → then a tree branch appears in your path, which you have to jump over… etc.

As you can see, this is not a piece of cake. You need to be properly prepared for such an effort. without proper training, you definitely won’t make it. You also need to keep in mind that you can easily injure yourself: abrasions and scratches are very common. 

Now you’re probably wondering if it’s such a challenging run then… 

For who cross country running is?

It should be noted that such a run is certainly not for people who do not like to get dirty. You will certainly step in a puddle or mud many times on your route. You can also expect abrasions. Pain will certainly accompany you during this run, not only physically but also mentally. 

I say this, not to discourage you from cross-country running, but to show you the reality and what you will probably have to face.

Cross running runs are for people who: 

  • strong legs, 
  • frequently change the rhythm and pace of their runs, 
  • is prepared to cover many kilometers, 
  • has strengthened the muscles of the whole body.

Cross country running – tips on how to prepare for this type of activity

If you have already decided that you want to take part in cross country running then you definitely need tips for cross country running now. 

1. Appropriate training

To prepare well for cross-country running you need to focus first and foremost on implementing the right exercises into your workout. 

  • increase your running strength, 
  • running endurance,
  • running for speed,
  • exercises to strengthen your legs – especially your thighs, 
  • running and strength exercises that will strengthen the muscles of the entire body, 
  • running where the pace changes frequently. 

In preparation, the surface on which the runner runs is also important. As you yourself already know cross-country running is mainly crooked, slippery, wet, and muddy surfaces with rocks and branches. Therefore, choose routes during training that resemble those at competitions. This way you will learn to move on them and keep your balance even in the most difficult sections. 

Running uphill and downhill – another important training element

Not only will you strengthen your leg muscles, but you will also learn how to evade your opponents on such stretches. It is on uphill or downhill runs that you are most likely to overtake people who have trouble with this part of the route. 

However, you must keep safety in mind. Do not push others over, as they may slip or fall, risking even serious injury. 

How long do you have to do these exercises to take part in cross country running?

Of course, it all depends on your condition. If you are a beginner, then certainly your road to getting fit and strong will be longer. Your body has to get used to the exertion and pace you impose on yourself. Give yourself about 4 months and then give cross-country running a try. 

If you are already an experienced runner then with proper training you will be able to try and take part in cross-country running after about 2 months. 

However, you must remember that the numbers given above are only examples. This does not mean that you also have to be ready for the challenge of cross-country running at that time. Train calmly and don’t overdo it. You can also train under the guidance of a personal trainer, who will surely show you the right exercises.

2. Choose proper clothes

What other tips for cross country running do I have for you? Cross country running is not a fashion show, so don’t choose your favorite and new outfit. Look for comfortable clothes in your closet that you won’t regret destroying. During a cross-country run, you may get your clothes dirty or torn by protruding branches.

What fabrics should you choose?

It is best to choose a technical fabric, it is perfect for cross-country running because:

  • protects against wind
  • dries quickly, 
  • does not get dirty, 
  • protects from getting wet – insulates from water. 
  • durable and resistant to damage. 

Remember to protect your legs and arms 

I mentioned earlier that you are vulnerable to abrasions and scratches. That’s why you should buy sports accessories to protect your elbows, forearms, and knees. 

MOST IMPORTANT – chose appropriate running shoes 

Choose shoes:

  • with spikes, 
  • with a soft sole, 
  • with strong bindings – you certainly don’t want to lose your shoes mid-run 😉 

Such shoes will allow you to run even on slimy terrain and you will have an easier time running. What’s more, this type of shoes will reduce the risk of falling. 

Cross country running tips -proper clothes

3. Cross country running tips – tactics when competing

Remember to focus on your strengths. Devise a plan of action. This way you will know where a good place will be to get ahead of your opponents. 

4. Get acquainted with the route of the cross-country race

Before running, it is best to familiarize yourself with the running route. This will help you choose the right footwear, and attire and choose exercises that will help you prepare for the competition. 

What will the surface be like? What will the weather be like? What can you expect along the route? 

By answering such questions you will prepare yourself for the run. Read about a particular run, watch videos of previous editions, and talk to someone who has participated in such competitions.

What are the advantages of cross country running?

First of all, such runs strengthen the whole body. They will make you stronger. You will also feel free. There is nothing better than running surrounded by nature. Moreover, you will prevent boredom. Often people get bored with running because it is monotonous and nothing happens. Cross-country running certainly nullifies this. 

You will also strengthen yourself mentally. Cross-country running is not easy, you need to be strong not only physically, but also mentally. You are bound to encounter moments along the route when you want to give up. 

What is cross country running? I hope that now you know the answer to that question after reading this article. As you can see it’s not an easy run and you have to prepare for this kind of activity if you want to be able to finish it. Right now, after you learned the tips for cross country running you will definitely prepare yourself for this challenge. Good luck!

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