Cross Country Running Tips

Cross country running tips: long-distance runners can learn about exercise, injury prevention, and food tips.

Cross-Country is a sport at many Junior and Senior High Schools. These athletes run between two and five miles per day, depending on the coach. In this article you will find many ideas for choosing equipment or gear, preventing injuries, helping stamina, and also many good food ideas that help to give the runner energy.

What kind of shoes should I buy for long distance running?

The best shoe for any long-distance sport is the lightest running shoe with the most support for the weight. Many coaches suggest Saucony running shoes, but there are many brands. You want a very light shoe that has built-in support for the arches. When you go shopping, check the weight of the shoes very carefully. Many runners also like to have spikes for rough terrain. There are both the screw-in kind and the permanent. This depends on the level and age of the runner. Again, check with your coach.

How do I prevent shin splints?

Shin splints are common among long distance runners. This is pain in the area of the shin that lies directly below the knee, which is in the middle of the lower leg. These are sharp, stabbing pains. If the runner experiences this, the best remedy is to soak in a warm tub and rest. Continuing with training can make the shin splints worse. A runner should tell his or her coach if they are experiencing this.

How can I avoid injury?

1. Since many cross-country runners must run in rainy weather and over muddy terrain that is littered with branches and vines, there are many opportunities for injuries. To keep yourself safe, be sure to wear comfortable shoes with good traction.

2. Pay very close attention to the path or course. If you are supposed to wear glasses, by all means, wear them! So many runners are injured unnecessarily in this way.

3. Remember to double or even triple tie your running shoes. This will prevent trips and falls.

4. If the runner has a previous injury or sore spot like a knee or ankle that is prone to give out on them, he or she should wear an elastic brace for additional support. Also, a runner should never compete injured.

I get pains in my side or "stitches". What can I do to lessen these during a race?

1. One thing that helps to relieve these "stitches" is if the runner raises his or her arms above their head while running.

2. The best thing to do is to prevent these pains in the side. The best way to do this is by drinking plenty of fluids prior to race time. A runner should consume large amounts of fluids prior to race time. Water and Gatorade is recommended normally. Check with the coach on what and how much to drink before competing.

I've heard that certain foods can give you energy. What should I eat before racing?

1. Although runners should always maintain a healthy diet low in fat and high in carbohydrates, this is especially beneficial the few days prior to a race.

2. Most runners try to eat loads of carbohydrates a day or so prior to the competition. A good habit to get into during the season is making pasta the main dish on those days prior to the big race.

3. Immediately before the race you should just drink plenty of fluid. This is after a healthy breakfast that is low in fat and high in carbohydrates. Cereal with 2% or skim milk, toast, orange juice, and maybe a banana is a good idea before the morning meet.

Just like with anything else, a good dose of common sense and forethought is the best medicine for what ails you. This is also true with long-distance or cross-country runners. Think ahead and stay safe! Check with your doctor before you start cross country running.

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