Suggestions and advice welcomed

I've been running seriously since March this year (although I have run on and off over the years since school), and joined the local running club in May. I train with them twice a week, usually about 4-5 miles at a steady pace, and try and fit in another shorter session with a friend at the weekends. I did a 10km race in July and really enjoyed it, finishing in 63 minutes, so I felt confident enough to enter a local cross-country race today - 7km. I didn't think I was complacent, but thought I could get round in reasonable shape, but the field was very fast (although I tried to stick to my own pace), there were a number of very sharp short hills over the 5-lap course, and I only managed 2 laps before I dropped out because I was struggling so badly. I'm determined not to be beaten by this, and I want to use it as a lesson in what my weaknesses are (upping the tempo, and coping with hills) - I'd welcome any suggestions and advice on what training to use to overcome these weaknesses.

Thanks in advance!


  • HillyHilly ✭✭✭
    Hi Fishy,
    the best way to train for cross country races is to run some of your training on similar terrain.

    Some sessions you might find helpful to do in your training are:
    Fartlek running -this could be short bursts of speed over an unmeasured distance or if done on paths, post to post. Idealy do the session off road.
    Hill reps- again best done on a grass hill, but if this isn't possible any hill would do. Run hard up then either walk or jog back recovery. How many you do would depend on the hill!
    Steady over distance off road run - If you can get off road on your weekend run this will help your muscles adapt to the terrain used in cross country races.

    There are many more sessions and types of runs you could do, but I personally think the above for off road running will help. Cross country is very different to road running as you've noticed. It'a all about being able to surge and recover and not twisting an ankle!

    Good luck in future events.
  • Don't be downhearted Fishy - the main thing is that you're out there running - which you weren't this time last year.

    Hilly's advice is spot on but as a fellow novice I would say that if you get in the same pickle again you might think about taking a short walking break. At your pace walking for a bit won't make much difference to your time (honest!) but it will give you renewed energy to continue running. During the Windsor half I took about 7 walking breaks (several at around 3 -5 miles when I was feeling bad) and I managed to average 9.30 min miles over the whole course. Obviously when I'm fitter I won't need any but walking and giving yourself a rest if often quicker than dragging yourself around at a pretend run for miles, feeling dreadful!

    And also, running a 5 lap race must be really hard - much easier to comtemplate stopping as you get used to the course.

    Good luck and happy running.
  • Thanks for the advice and support, both of you. Your training suggestions seem to make a lot of sense, hilly, and I'm going to start putting them into practice. I'm trying to add in a couple of daytime training sessions with a friend, so they seem a good time to try.

    Daisy, I tried the walking break; not only did it not make much difference, but I faced the additional mental obstacle of the field disappearing off into the distance, and then the leaders lapping me soon afterwards. I know that we should all run at our own paces, but I just couldn't face the additional embarrassment of running the last part of the race on my own after everyone else had finished!

    I am trying to be positive about the experience, and I'm definitely fitter than I was six months ago - thanks for the support.
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