Author Michael McGovern
Cross Country (or XC as short hand)
The XC season will be upon us Early October. So what are the benefits of Cross Country training and races?
I know that visions of mud, sweat and tears come to mind BUT think again.
XC provides a much needed break from track and road races and, if you pardon the pun, goes back to the grass roots of running which is why so many clubs have the name Harrier in their title. Distances are never accurate in XC so you can forget the strictures of the much loved garmin watches and concentrate on actually beating opponents whether that is at the top of the field or in the middle (or in my case, sadly, at the back of the field!!)
Cross country racing is analogous to a 10k or 5k race on the track which is 3 to 6 miles without rest over grassy and oft time’s hilly terrain. Given the distances we race in Ireland the key to success for men is a good 8k - 10 k and for women it is a good 3k - 6k .
Training for cross country races is hugely beneficial. For those who favour the track in the summer cross country running hugely increases stamina, leg strength and provides a much needed mental break thus preparing you for the stresses of all out summer track sessions and races. For non track runners these benefits alone will increase your road race efficiency.
So why not commit to giving this a try especially if you have never done it before??
Training for cross country- What’s it all about?
Cross country races are seldom flat and so if you run up a hill during a race your heart rate will increase by about 10%. So if this is not catered for in training then severe oxygen debt will occur during a race and you will be a sitting duck to your opponents.
Now I often see runners doing a hill session simply running up a hill and then jogging down again. You should be aware this is not a session in its own right nor is it a XC session but is often used at the end of a normal session to improve posture and stride.
In a XC race once a hill is climbed you will need to keep pushing on at pace and so this must be replicated in training.
For those involved with Susan’s group I know she is starting XC training this coming Saturday in the Phoenix park.
Her sessions will include hilly mile loops in the park and also fairly long reps. The length of her Saturday reps will be such that you will actually be running around your anaerobic threshold pace.
This type of training (a biggie when it comes to racing XC) is aimed at upping your threshold i.e. the point where your lactic accumulation overcomes your body’s ability to clear it. You are essentially training to run faster for further!!
In addition she will not be neglecting your VO2 Max sessions (the other biggie XC session)which are essentially the type of sessions which are done on Tuesdays.
RACES AND XC SPIKES
The Business Houses Athletic Association (BHAA) are much loved races by Crusaders (and by yours truly) . BHAA host about 8 XC races per season all taking place on Saturday mornings (providing a welcome break from training) and all around parklands in Dublin.
In addition there are Novice, Intermediate and Senior races provided by the various athletic bodies in Dublin, Leinster and at National level. These take place on Sundays around the country and these contain team competitions
Not, I am afraid the gear of the performance enhancing type, but gear for your feet!
XC spikes are essential for racing XC…obvious innit!! Try Elverys bottom of Grafton street or places like the Run Hub. Avoid the sports “fashion” shops like Lifestyle or similar. You need proper XC spikes!!. Otherwise try http://www.startfitness.co.uk/catalogsearch/result/?q=cross+country+spikes
make sure you go for the same brand as your ordinary runners. You will also need to get 9mm and 12mm spikes (bought in Start fitness) as the bought pair will normally only come with 5mm which are useless for XC.
Ask me if you are not sure.
So XC ?? Who is up for it!!!
Author: Michael McGovern. No part of this article may be shared or reproduced without permission from the author
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Michael McGovern, Crusader Committee Member, Chairman of Irish Milers Club