It’s late August. It’s getting cooler. And wetter. That must mean cross country running season is right around the corner. You’ve never done a XC race before? Then you’ve missed out. But it’s not too late. Whether you are a high school student running through Huntsville High School or an Adult Masters Runner (age > 30), the fall is full of races for you. XC running offers a unique opportunity to do an individual and a team sport at the same time. For Masters runners, there is the chance to race against your age-matched peers. Masters XC races vary from 5-9km.If you are looking for some reasons to consider running XC this fall, consider these:
- Fewer joint injuries. Running on the natural earth has less impact on your joints than running on concrete or asphalt. However, the injuries that cross country runners may experience are twisted and sprained ankles, bumps, bruises, and cuts from falling. You’ll want to double or even triple tie your shoelaces so you don’t have to stop to tie them, but also so you don’t trip on them.
- Improved Speed and Endurance. Going up and down hills, through brush and trees, and winding through a cross-country course will help your running performance. Your running stride and tempo will constantly change as you make your way through the course. This will help increase your dexterity and balance, and the challenging runs may help you when you’re out on the road—you could run faster and feel stronger, so your road runs may even seem a little easier.
- Use Different Muscles. When you have to navigate through a variety of running areas, you will use different muscles than you use when you run on a straight, flat, even surface. Your hips, legs, and ankles will get stronger. Also, you will use your thighs more, which means your abdominal muscles and your lower back muscles will have to work harder to support your leg action.
- Burn More Calories. If you want to lose weight, or even maintain your current weight, cross-country running is a great way to exercise. It’s well known that running burns a lot of calories, but when you mix it up with the different terrain and the hills, your burn rate will go up.
- No Boring Runs. If your normal training routine has become routine, cross-country running can mix it up. You’ll have new experiences and beautiful scenery. The challenges will spice up your runs, and you’ll look forward to your workouts. Also, inclement weather can be a factor, which adds another element of excitement.
- Fun Races. Once you get the hang of running cross-country, enter a race. They are designed for individuals or for teams.
- You’re Not The Fastest But You Still Matter. XC is a team sport and scoring depends on the whole team not just your fastest 1-2 runners.
Masters Runners can get a taste for XC by coming out to any of our weekday workouts, 6:15 am Tuesdays and Thursdays from Conroy Track (also Sunday long runs 7:30 am). These workouts are done in and around Conroy Park/University of Waterloo so runners of all abilities can stay close together. Also, until September 8 the club has Tuesday Fun Runs at 6pm. August 25 at Hunter’s Bay Trail (5km) , Sept 1 and Fairy Vista Trail (6.5km) (parking near sewage treatment off highway 60) and Sept 8 at Conroy Track (3km and 1 mile).
Consider trying a XC race this fall. You can commit to as little or as much as you please. Fall Masters races the club will go to are:
Taylor Creek 5K Cross Country – Sept 27
Muskoka Mud Run 5 or 9K – October 3
Sunnybrook Park 8K – November 1
Ontario Cross Country Championships – Etobicoke – Nov 15
Canadian Cross Country Championships – Kingston ON – Nov 28
High School Runners will get started Thursday September 10 with a lunch time meeting and after school practice. That week there will also be a Friday practice after school and a Sunday afternoon practice. Details will follow through school announcements once school starts after Labour Day. High school runners race between 3 and 7km depending on their age. This fall sport is a fantastic way for new high school students to make new friends, friends they may have for a long time. The team cuts not one and welcomes runners of all abilities including beginners to the sport. As extra motivation this year, the Ontario High School XC Championships (OFSAA) will be in our region at Duntroon. This is a course we will see often and it gives us an advantage for the first time against teams from southern Ontario who are not used to all of our hills! It will be exciting to see our region host this fantastic event.
Oh, and one more thing….if you run XC you may get to show your friends these awesome XC feet!
See you on the roads, grass and trails……