Hiking is a great way to explore what the world has to offer and our recent article ‘Hike the Line' told how Claire Wernstedt-Lynch and Tenny Ostrem conducted a thorough hike of the US / Mexico border. Whilst a 2,000-mile walk might not be within your reach just yet, there are plenty of options for you to get out in the great outdoors and off the beaten track.
You can get out into the wild with a spot of cross country running, shunning the tried and tested approach to pounding tarmac in order to combine a love of terrain and adventure with a love of running.
If you’re an outdoor adventurer who is looking to get into cross country, or an existing flat track runner keen to develop your skills on different terrain, the transition might not be easy. That’s why we’ve put together a handy guide to get you off to a flying start in your new cross country journey.
Know the Course
One aspect of cross country that may differ from normal running is needing to know the course you’re about to take. If you go to a park run or set a course around your neighbourhood, the likelihood is that you’ll be on predictable terrain.
With cross country, that’s not always the case. An article by Seven Lakes tells how a typical cross country course can have a range of terrain such as mud, woodlands, hills, flat ground and even standing water.
Knowing what is coming up is essential in cross country running.
Grip is another aspect of cross country that you may have to consider. A piece by Runners World outlines how important traction is when running cross country, especially on softer surfaces. Wearing spikes is highly recommended as courses will typically be on grass and mud, where a slip or a fall could cause you real trouble.
Once you know the course, make sure you’ve selected the right footwear.
Wearable tech might be more important in cross country than in any other form of running. Depending on where you go, GPS tracking is going to be hugely helpful, especially if you were to have a fall or suffer some form of injury and you’re off the beaten track.
There’s also your technique to think about as well. Nurvv details how optimising your technique can reduce your risk of injury, which is one of the many advantages of certain wearable tech items. Whether you have a run pod that attaches to your trainers, actual smart trainers or just a smartwatch, understanding how to minimise injury potential might just keep you fit out on the cross country tracks.
Whilst running on tarmac, losing a trainer is perhaps the least of your worries. If you’re running on muddy tracks and possibly getting through some standing water, losing a trainer in the quagmire is a possibility.
Once you’ve got your spikes on, get tape wrapped around your shoe to ensure it stays on if you do sink into something wet and muddy.
The most important piece of advice of all though this is to enjoy it. Running cross country is a different challenge to normal running and it’s a great way to experience some beautiful backdrops whilst indulging in your passion.
Leave No Trace
There are things that every runner can do to protect trails, wildlife, plants and the environment while logging those miles. Stick to the trail to avoid damaging sensitive natural environments and wildlife, plus have a plan for your waste by ensuring you have a secure place for your energy bar wrappers and gel packets before you hit the trail.