The Cross Country season is upon us and many are new to the event. So here are a few tips to prepare for what is truly the purest form of running.
1/ You first need to adequately train for the event…pretty basic, eh?? Saturday morning training with Crusaders in the Phoenix Park is ideal, with the emphasis on endurance over grassy and hilly terrain.
2/ Have spike shoes and you need spike pins fitted with a length of 9mm - 12mm, depending on how wet the ground is. Check out the specialist running shops in Dublin.
3/ Double knot your laces, as a loose (or lost) shoe during a race, spells disaster!!
4/ Bring a waterproof bag (or a large bin bag) with you to races so as to put in dry clothes to change into after the race.
5/ Distances in Cross Country are rarely accurate. As a result, forget times, watches, garmins etc and just run to race against your fellow runners.
6/ Most Cross-country races have a club team competition, so make sure you arrive in plenty of time as our Club captains must declare a named team well before the start time.
7/ Make sure you warm up well by jogging for at least 10-15 mins followed by a dynamic warm up.
8/ The start of races tend to be fast before settling down. Do not get sucked into running too hard at the beginning of a race. Instead start off steady and then work past all those runners who went off too hard!!
9/ Post race, don’t forget to cool down by doing a nice easy jog with your club mates.
10/ Bring something to eat for post-race fuel. Food would be bananas, Muller rice, flavoured milk etc.
How to Minimise the Risk of Injury When Running
1. WARM UP: Be sure to do a thorough warm up before you head out running. Spend up to 15 minutes doing your warm up so you increase your body temperature before heading outdoors. This will also help prevent muscle strains.
2. LAYER UP: It's cold out there so make sure to wear layers to keep your body warm. Always wear a base layer and then add extra layers as needed. Be sure to keep your head, hands and feet warm. When you get home, be sure to change out of your running gear quickly. If you run in snow, make sure your shoes have good traction.
3. STAY HYDRATED: While you may not sweat as much on winter runs, it is still very important to keep your body hydrated.
4. PLAN YOUR RUN: If you can finish your run at your front door, this isn't important for you. If you need to drive home from your run be sure to have a warm jacket and hot beverage waiting for you in your car, post run. This will help keep you warm.
5. DON'T PUSH YOURSELF: During these cold and wintry days, don't push your body too hard. A short run is better than no run. Keep your runs to 30-60 minutes.
6. MASK UP: If you run in busy areas be sure to wear a mask while out running. Your mask will also help to keep your face and nose warm, so it is a good addition to your running gear.
7. USE COMMON SENSE: If temperatures are zero or in the minus figures, don't go running. Always check the weather in your local area before heading out on a run. Always bring your phone with you so you can call for help, if needed. If paths and roads are icing and slippery, don't go running. Look after yourself and stay safe!
Some simple tips for fitting in fitness:
When you're pressed for time, or just eager to start your workout, it can be tempting to skip a warm-up. But warming up before you exercise, especially before engaging in strenuous activity, has very real physiological, and often psychological, benefits. Here's what to know to get the most out of your warm-up.
Benefits of a Proper Warm-Up
Warming up prepares your heart, lungs, and muscles for the more strenuous phase, the main focus of your workout.
By activating the heat-dissipation mechanisms in the body, your body can cool efficiently and help prevent overheating early on, which is especially important during a demanding aerobic activity, such as running or bicycling in a race.
Here are the specifics of what happens to your body during a warm-up:
Workouts vary in terms of intensity and length, according to the type of exercise you do. It is recommended warming up for 5 to 10 minutes depending on the intensity of your exercise activity.
The simplest way to work out at home is to use your own body. There are a variety of effective body weight exercises that can help you build strength, endurance and burn calories. And by circuit training (going from one exercise to the next, without little or no rest), you keep your heart rate up, burn more calories and get the most out of your exercise time.
Sample Strength Circuit Training (No equipment)
As a session in their own right or as a warm up to any of the above sessions, running drills are a good idea to introduce into any running training programme all year round, as they improve running efficiency and form, training the brain to adapt to good running technique so that this becomes automatic and you can get the most speed out of the minimum effort. If you look up running drills you will find lots of different ones to try and learn. The ideal is to pick ones that can be progressive and I personally prefer ones that mimic the running action as closely as possible. My own preferred set of drills is as follows:
Michael McGovern, Crusader Committee Member, Chairman of Irish Milers Club