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Cross Country Running Tips - How to Increase Your Running Speed Off-Road

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Wish to increase your running speed off-road? Then you need some cross country running tips. Cross country running is all about being able to deal with change and surprising circumstances. But even that you can train for. Check out this article for a range of different cross country running tips.

Cross Country Running

Cross country running is so entertaining. If you are lucky you will have to deal with rain, wind, snow, fog, cold hands and ears as well as sliding, falling, mud, tripping over tree trunks, etc.... If you want to make the most of your cross-country running session, then you should prepare yourself for some of these conditions.

Cross Country Running Tip #1: Familiarize Yourself with the Terrain

Cross country running is so different from running on solid, flat concrete pavements and streets. When you run cross country you have to deal with rougher circumstances, especially when it has rained and you are dealing with slippery, muddy tracks. There is no better way to prepare for this, than to experience it often. Of course, there is time for track work and running through city streets, but if you want to do well in cross country running you should regularly run on trails, through woods etc.

Cross Country Running Tip #2: Familiarize Yourself with the Weather

Like the terrain, you also need to familiarize yourself with the cross-country running weather. The weather may be wet and cold or generally unpleasant. So, run in bad weather often. Go out when it is raining, rather than staying at home in front of the fire. It is good to get the experience of bad weather running already in your training, so that your race performance is not too much affected by adverse weather conditions.

Cross Country Running Tips #3: Practice Tempo Changes

One of the toughest parts of cross country running is the variety in running speeds you have to deal with as you are running races. Your competitors may want to try "take you out" early in the race by sudden sprints, and it is hard to let them go and have the confidence that you will pick them up later. There is the terrain to consider which may mean that you take it easy going up a hill, but then try to get away downhill if that is your strength. Or vice versa. At some point it becomes a tactical and mental challenge as much as a physical one. Again, the key here is experience.

To get used to all these tempo changes it is important to do tempo runs and fartlek training. Tempo runs will help you get used to faster paced running without producing lactic acid in your legs. Fartlek is also known as "speed play", a more or less unstructured training session in which you incorporate lots of tempo changes. There are more structured fartlek sessions as well, e.g. pyramid runs. In pyramid runs you typically change your speed every 5 minutes or so. You first build up your speed in 3-6 steps, then you build it down again. It is important to do these types of runs fairly often during the racing season. Keep in mind though that these are "hard" training sessions, so leave enough time for you to recover for your weekend races.

These cross country running tips should help you make the next your best cross country running season yet. Apply these principles in your running training as well as possible and soon you will reap the rewards.

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Dominique de Rooij

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