7 Cross Country Tips That Triathletes Expanding Their Game Should Know

triathlete running cross country

Over 4 million people participate in triathlons every year. While all of those participants have their differences, there are two things that unite all of them…

They absolutely love being triathletes and they want to do everything that they can to keep improving their performance.

When it comes to improving performance, we’ve seen a lot of triathletes dabble in “cross country” running to improve their skills and integrate that improvement into triathlons. If you’re considering cross country running for the first time, before you set out on your first multi-terrain marathon run, check out these simple yet effective cross country tips!

1. Pick Up a Good Pair of Shoes

Given the variable terrain that you’re going to face while cross country running, you need shoes that are built with versatility in mind. To that end, when you go into a sports supply store, ask them specifically for “cross country running shoes”.

While the differences are subtle between cross country shoes and shoes for other events, believe us when we say that it’s those subtleties that win a race.

For example, cross country shoes that are rated for muddy courses will have 15mm spikes. If you were to try to tackle a muddy course with standard 9mm spiked shoes, you’d almost certainly get stuck.

2. Prepare Your Body for Adverse Conditions

One of the most distinctive factors of cross country running is that it pits you against different environments. For some portions of a race, you may be running on solid ground at low altitudes. In other portions, you could be scaling a mountain that’s covered in dirt.

Preparing for all of those contingencies is key to dominating your competition, so strap a roof cargo box onto your car, throw camping supplies in it and drive out into the wilderness. Once you’re out there, spend a few days running through unpredictable conditions and take note of what adjustments you should make when faced with certain challenges.

3. Sprint Train

Mentioning sprinting while discussing cross country tips might seem counterproductive since cross country running is more of a marathon than a race. What you’ll learn during your first event, though, is that the beginning portion of cross country races can be frantic.

Positioning is a big deal in cross country because some portions of courses can get narrow and may disallow passing. In order to get out ahead of the pack before those portions come up, you’re going to have to get a head start.

Adding 200 and 400-meter sprints to your cross country training routine should give you the edge that you need to not fall behind early on.

4. Spend a Ton of Time Tackling Inclines

The biggest make or break point for cross country runners is how well they tackle hills. Almost every cross country course will feature inclines, some of which can run a contestant ragged if their bodies aren’t used to maintaining momentum on non-flat surfaces.

If you have access to a gym, using treadmills on their highest incline settings can help acclimate your body to uphill running. For the best training results, find a hill-filled area and start dominating those inclines.

5. Survey Courses Before You Run

Some cross country courses won’t let racers see courses in-person prior to racing. If that’s the case for your course, read other runner’s feedback if it has been raced on before. You can also look over a course on Google Maps to get a read on its terrain.

If you can see your course in person before racing, take the time to survey it. By walking through portions of your course, you can better plan your racing lines which can keep you from getting stuck behind the pack.

6. Appreciate the Possibility of Losing Your Shoes

There is no type of sport that we’re aware of where shoe losses are more prevalent than in cross country racing. For that reason, one of the most valuable cross country tips that we can impart on you is to do everything that you can to keep your shoes secured.

Properly lacing your shoes is obviously a must. Beyond that, many runners wrap gaffer’s tape around their shoes once they’re on their feet to tighten their hold. If you do this, be mindful to not cut off your circulation.

7. Let Your Opponents Dictate Pace

Cross country running is not about setting records or beating times. It’s solely about outlasting your opponents. To that end, don’t have a target pace in mind when tackling a cross country course.

However fast your opponents are running, do what you can to just keep pace with them. Stay strategic as you do this by not trying to pass people if you feel they’re overexerting at inopportune times. If you run your race to stay in the game and pick opportune moments to blow past your fellow runners, you’re going to set yourself up for a win.

Our Cross Country Tips Will Help You Achieve Your Running Goals Faster

Whether your goal is to use cross country running to become a better triathlete or you’re thinking of making a full-time transition to this running discipline, our cross country tips will help you get to where you want to go faster.

We hope that you found this post helpful and wish you the best in your future competitions!

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