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Pitreavie Amateur Athletics Club

Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland. Registered Charity SC05575.

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XC A Quick Guide

Published on Tuesday, 16 September 2014 12:57

Race kit

If this is your first cross country season, consider investing in a pair of cross country spikes. If not, check your cross country spikes from the previous season are still in suitable condition, and fit comfortably. Cross country spikes provide a bit more flexibility and movement in the sole than track spikes, to allow the shoe to follow the movement of your foot over the rough terrain. This will help prevent you going over your ankle during a race. The length of a cross country spike is usually around 9mm to 15mm, longer than the average 6mm track spike. Keep the longer spikes for the muddier races!

If you would prefer not to wear a spike, you can wear a good trail or fell shoe. The grip on the sole of the shoe works similarly to that of a spike and will provide your feet with a bit of added support.

The winter months can be very cold, make sure you have warm layers and thermals so you don’t freeze on cold training nights or your race day! Also bring at least one change of warm clothes and socks to wear after the race.

Walk the course

This is a very important step to follow, especially if you are unfamiliar with the race course. It allows you to identify the sections of the race which you are going to find challenging (or are extra muddy!) so you can think ahead in your race.

Warm up

Before your race day, plan out your warm up. Depending on the length of your race, take a good warm up run for 10-20 minutes. Do some stretches and dynamic drills, and follow with some short interval reps at a moderate intensity for up to 3 minutes, to get your heart rate up. Don’t forget to allow time to take off your layers and put on your spikes about 15 minutes before the gun goes off. Added stress of rushing to get to the start line is unnecessary and wastes energy!

Race tactics

It is important to pace your race. Starting too fast can cause tiring early during the race. Cross country races focus more on the placing rather than time. Different courses will suit different people.

Warm down

Don’t forget to fit in an easy 10-20 minute warm down jog after your race. This will help loosen off your muscles and ease any tightness which you may feel the next day.

When you get home

Don’t forget to unpack your bag of wet and muddy clothes when you get home  - if you don't, when you find the bag two weeks later discarded in a corner you will discover that  your kit is mouldy and ruined. Also it is worth removing (or at least loosening) the spikes in your shoes - left unattended in wet shoes, they will rust and become impossible to remove later without damaging the shoe.

Good luck and enjoy your cross country season competing for Pitreavie!


Random list of things to take to a Cross Country Race  - by Steve Adam

One athlete
Pair of running shoes
Suitable length spikes
Spike tightener
Safety pins
Sun cream
Pitreavie club vest
Under armour
Hat & gloves for everyone
Warm clothes including jacket for before race
Wellies or walking boots for walking course
Towel and baby wipes to wipe mud off legs etc after race
Towel to sit on to keep stray mud off car seats on way home
Clean shoes for wearing in car on way home
Collapsible seat to sit on while changing shoes and dirty clothes
Flask of hot beverage of choice
Course map and start times
Change of clothes including socks
Plastic bag for muddy running shoes
Plastic bag for muddy clothes
Only joking about the sun cream

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