Cross Country Running



Cross country/off road running in general, is all about strength. Even if it is only 5k, the nature of the race with its differing surfaces, hills and twists and turns make strength a much bigger asset than speed. So, a good template for XC training is to train for a longer race than the actual distance you will be running.

Running a 5 mile XC? then do 8, 9 or 10 mile road runs.

Now let’s turn that on its head.  If you want to run long distances, then maybe a great template for the strength and stamina you will need to cover those distances is to make XC runs part of your training. XC running is excellent for developing strength. The different terrains will force you to run with your whole body. Your leg strength will improve. Your stomach muscles will become stronger. Your core strength will be enhanced. You will almost certainly need to pump your arms due to the ground underfoot. This is often one thing we start to neglect half way around a long road run as we get tired. As strength is one of the critical 5 S’s this increased strength will help you run faster on the road or on the track.


So next time there is a XC race going on, don’t shy away from it because “it does not fit in with my schedule” Embrace the run and make it part of your schedule. A few hills, a couple of ditches, and some muddy paths and the 5-mile XC run will seem more like double that distance anyway. If you are really worried you have short changed yourself, you can always rest after and then do a recovery run in the evening. There are lots of benefits to training twice a day, but that is a discussion for another day.

Just to sum up then, unless you have a particular aversion to mud and post-race cake then running our XC races is great fun and something you really ought to be doing.