In today’s post, I’m going to give a quick sermon on the benefits of running cross-country (XC) over the autumn and winter for run speed, anaerobic fitness, mental fortitude and a muddy good time (yep, you can get all this and more from XC running)!
Here’s what I mean:
- Run speed – you run fast in XC, and that make you faster. You have to run fast, the distances are usually short, everyone else is trying to run fast. Trust me, you’ll want to run fast!
- Anaerobic fitness – the type of intense high-speed surges and hill climbs you put in during an XC event will get you doing a fair amount of anaerobic metabolising pretty early in the event. This is not a place you can very easily put yourself in a controlled training session (nor would you want to very often) but there are very really benefits of this type of session for distance running.
- Mental fortitude – this is really a product of points 1 & 2. You’re running fast, you may have been redlining from the gun. It hurts. But you’ve got to keep pushing. That way mental strength is formed. There are many events where it’s possible to think “I can’t keep this up!” but there aren’t too many quite like XC where you’re lungs are burning, your legs are burning, the mud is getting muddier and the hills are getting steeper. It’s an honest sport.
- Muddy good time – you can probably work this out for yourself. It’s running off road. In winter. It’s muddy. But, as I’ve already mentioned, distances are usually short. You can race, shower, and still be in the pub for a quick celebratory half before dinner. It doesn’t get much more fun than that!
After an autumn and winter of this sort of running, you can’t fail to see improvements in your run split during your next triathlon. If it’s good enough for the Brownlee brothers, it’s probably good enough for the rest of us!
The good news is it’s not too late to join your local running or harriers club for the season (if you’re in NZ), chuck on a club singlet and some spikes, and start building that run speed, strength and power and mental fortitude to take with you into the next summer’s triathlon season!
If you’re a Kāpiti local, we’d love to see you running with the Kāpiti Running & Tri Club, in our awesome club colours, this XC season!