Home » Cross-Country Preparation

Cross-Country Preparation

by Steve

The cross-country season is upon us and athletes & coaches are busy planning their season. This time of year allows athletes to build up a big aerobic foundation, improve their endurance and become more mentally & physically robust before they may tackle some indoor and/or outdoor track races. To use another analogy, think of building an aerobic base similar to a bank account, we want to continually make deposits into our account and then when race day comes be able to make a big withdrawal. Every time you make a deposit into your account through use of the training below you are financially (aerobically/physically) in a better place.

Include the following different training types in your weekly cross country training routine:
Recovery Runs (Very easy pace used following a workout day, race or long run. Keep these very controlled with the aim just to recover from a harder training day)
Easy Runs (Easy conversational pace. These can be slightly faster than recovery runs and usually done 2-3 days following a key workout or race or the day before a key workout)
Long Runs (Body learns to use fat efficiently as a fuel source & body increases glycogen storage capacity. Very important part of the training program which helps lay a good aerobic foundation. Doing these over rolling hills can have an added impact. Add on 10 mins per week to these and don’t do on the key race week.)
Steady Runs (Steady state but controlled, faster than easy pace. These are done at a pace & effort somewhere between easy running and threshold running. Can run a little longer at this pace compared to threshold runs)
Threshold Runs (approx 85-92% of HR Max or roughly 10 KM-Half Marathon pace (depending on the person). Here we can break into tempo intervals of 3-15 mins or use as a continuous tempo of 20-40 mins depending on the aim of the workout and the physiology of the individual)
Intervals at 5km-10km race pace of 800m-1600m with a recovery of 1-3 mins walk/jog and aim for 4km-10km worth depending on your levels of fitness/injury history/stage of training plan etc
Aerobic Fartlek (Use a high volume of time/distance on these and rotate paces that ranges from 5km pace at fastest to roughly half marathon pace with time durations of 1-3 minutes. These are ideally done over rolling terrain on grass/trail).
Alactic Hill Sprints (40m-60m max efforts or 8-10 secs with 3 mins walk recovery done on a steep incline. Start with 2-3 of these and add one per week until you hit 6-8. Make sure to warm up properly beforehand along with some drills.)
Hill Running (Recruits different Muscle Fibres and builds Muscular Endurance. Use longer hills from 1-3 minutes duration at a steady aerobic pace with a steady float jog back down recovery and shorter hills 20-30 secs with a slow jog/walk back recovery.)
Strength & Conditioning: Use plenty of glute & hip strength work, single leg balance & stability work, hurdle mobility drills, circuits etc
Cross-Training (For athletes that can only handle a certain load/volume of running then supplement this with cycling/swimming/aqua jogging/x trainer etc. This allows you to get in extra aerobic training without the loading and can pay dividends to your performance.)

Now having made plenty of deposits over the base phase of your training and the early preparation phases, be careful with the real race specific training, racing or any type of anaerobic work as these essentially make withdrawals from our bank account. Do small amounts of this type of work to add the icing on the cake and you will be all set for your key race day. Cross Country is an aerobic event and you must lay proper foundations to run well in this event. Also make sure much of your training is specific to the type of surface you will be racing on. Get used to running on grass, forest trails, over rolling hills etc as this is what will best prepare you for cross country racing.

Mentally you also need to prepare, cross country breaks your rhythm depending on the course, its a constant battle/challenge with no breaks and you must be prepared for this type of terrain. Certain courses can affect the thoughts of certain athletes as everyone has a certain course they feel suits them best. Be prepared mentally for all courses, all weather conditions and be ready to tough it out. Cross country is also dictated by effort or feel of pace as there are no splits, so pacing is of utmost importance during it. Learn the feel of paces in training and how to pace smart during races. Always challenge yourself to catch the runners in front of you, this is the real beauty of cross country racing as it’s not about the clock but about finishing as high up as you can. The main thing is to enjoy the challenge of cross country racing as it’s something that caters for all levels and can give you immense satisfaction from competing in.

You may also like

Leave a Comment

About Me

Performance specialist who has 24 years of experience in Development & High Performance sport

My Blog

@2023 – All Right Reserved. Designed and Developed by Designation

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Privacy & Cookies Policy