Ready for the cross country season? It’s been a little while since our last Beagle Bites session and today we’re reflecting on the training we’ve been undertaking over the last 4-6 weeks at the club in preparation for the upcoming cross country season (both for school and in local/national competition). The aim with this short post is to equip you with all the tips and advice you need to train, prepare, and perform at your best in cross country.
Building a Solid Foundation: Our Training Recap
Over the past several weeks, we’ve focused on gradually increasing your mileage on uneven terrain and hills. We firmly believe that building cardiovascular endurance through long runs is important for cross country success. We’ve been increasing your weekly mileage by about 10% to build a solid aerobic base, which is essential for staying strong and injury-free when we add more intense speedwork.
Speedwork: The Key to Competitive Edge
In addition to mileage, we’ve incorporated specific speed sessions like hill repeats, tempo runs, fartleks and cross country starts. These sessions are not just challenging but also fun and we hope you enjoyed them! The aim is to develop your energy systems and teach your body to race at a quick pace and recover efficiently. Our view here is that this is often overlooked and we believe that for cross country, speedwork is essential for training your body to shift gears and kick into high speed when needed.
Strength and Conditioning: Building Power and Resilience
We’ve also been focusing on plyometric strength and conditioning activities. Targeting your core, glutes, quads, and calves helps you develop the power to climb tough hills and navigate through mud or uneven terrain. Compound moves like squats, lunges, and med ball deadlifts are excellent for building lower body force, making you more fatigue-resistant later in races.
The Importance of Recovery
Cross country is tough. Proper sleep, nutrition, and easy run days are just as crucial as your hard workouts. Refilling your energy stores with good food and allowing your body time to adapt and get stronger during rest is vital. Research and experience shows that proper recovery prevents injury, fatigue, and burnout and this is especially important coming off the back of a tough track season.
Mental Toughness: The Final Frontier
We’ve worked on your mental approach through visualisation, positive self-talk, and embracing challenges. Staying mentally engaged throughout the entire race is very important. We’ve also discussed strategies for cross country and the impact they may have on mental toughness. Our Beagles Bites sessions offer more on this topic, so feel free to explore those for additional guidance.
Race Day Tips: The Little Things That Make a Big Difference
Walking the course before the race allows us to scout out the terrain and conditions, helping us determine your ideal spike length for maximum traction. Remember spike length can be very important for your race outcome and its important you have spares to fit your shoes together with a spike key – see Coach Mark at the track during training sessions for a supply of track and XC spikes in differing lengths and read more from Mark on Spikes here. Packing extras for rain or cold weather is also essential. Dry robes and bobble hats are popular choices to help retain heat. For parents, sturdy footwear like hiking shoes or trail trainers is recommended for navigating the course.
Nutrition on Race Day
Staying fuelled during your race is key. Hydrate well and bring portable snacks like energy chews, bananas, or chia bars/granola bars for quick energy. Remember, carbs early in the day and protein after the race. For our athletes feeling like their suffering from low energy, please take the time to discuss this with your coach – for parents, it may be worth reviewing our guidance on Relative Energy Deficits in Sport linked here or further guidance available here. Remember, we are here to help and support you so early discussion allows for early intervention and early recovery if issues that may the way of you being your best!
With smart preparation through training, strategy, gear checks, and mental toughness, you’re equipped to excel in any conditions. It’s now your chance to get out there, run your best cross country, and achieve your goals. We believe in each of you, and we can’t wait to see you at the finish line!
Want to know more? Speak with your coach during training sessions or book a zoom session to discuss this with your coach? Click here.