Cross country running is one of the least expensive sports to have in your school programs. It develops personal discipline and enhances over all fitness. It can be participated in as an individual sport or as a team sport. This article takes a close up look at the sport, of cross country running.
The distance and terrain of a course will differ with age levels and gender. Women’s courses are usually shorter than the men’s. However, there is little change in terrain. Terrain can be on any type of surface. Courses can go through creek beds, ravines, smooth grass, rock roads, and hills of all sizes. Races can be conducted on golf courses, roads and farm pastures. No surface is off limits, when it comes to setting up a race course. Distance for Middle School is 2 miles for boys and 1 mile for girls. High School is 3 miles for boys and 2 miles for girls. Colleges will differ. However, most are 5 miles for men and 3 to 4 miles for women. Some meets will use the metric system for distances.
The team score is determined by the first five runners to cross the finish line. The composite lowest score wins. The minimum being 15 points. However, many times the number 6 and 7 runners can push a competing team out of scoring points, by placing ahead are between the other teams top five runners. An individual champion is determined by who wins the race.
A successful team tries to have many runners finish as close to the top runner as possible. Time gaps between the first and fifth runner are very important. The shorter the time gap, the more powerful the team score will be. A team, that can have a short time gap between their first and last runner, will be hard to top. Many times, coaches will try to force their teams to train together. The front runners will work hard to help the back runners move up. When teams run as a group, there is little communication between them. Teammates have to learn, how to read each other without talking. Talking burns energy. It can also be a psychological letdown for athletes that are struggling.
Eventually, all runners have to go their own way. Waiting, for teammates, can only last so long. Good runners need to break away. They can’t afford to lose contact with the front runners. Once the race hits the halfway point, major decisions are made by all runners. By that point, runners know where they are going to finish in a race. Following another runner, is like being on a rubber band. You can reel in the runner in front of you or have the band snap and lose contact.
Training techniques differ among coaches. Many coaches like to mix up training strategies. Athletes will use strength training combined with speed work, overload workouts and interval running to train for cross country. Some coaches will use unorthodox training. They will train on a beach, on hills, in high grass and on the track. They will do many different sets, of speed work, to improve the endurance of their runners.
Cross country running is very challenging to athletes and teams. It is the purest form of running that a person can do.