Cross country is an unusual sport to run. Other sports have 10 to 22 players on the field at one time. In this field, you compete with 25 other teams with 200 runners on the field. This sport usually features a team’s top seven runners. While the team aspect is important, running your individual race is integral to team success.
We can’t get the team to finish without the individual. After all, the individual is running the race, so they need to understand how to run strategically. The runner needs to understand how to run without having a coach right by. Once the individual conquers the run, your team finish will come too. If you don’t have a team, and you are just wanting to race better, this will be helpful for you too.
Just like the 888 Casino, sometimes you have to take risks while running. However, you want to avoid taking those risks in the beginning. Most runners go out like a bat out of hell. They run the first 100 meters in an all-out sprint, or they get caught up with the adrenaline rush. Think about it, if you go out and run the first ¼ of the race at 60 seconds, you are on pace for a 4-minute mile pace. That’s Olympic level racing there, and only the top 1% of the world can handle that.
You obviously can’t simulate mass starts when you practice, but you can work on steady pacing. You never want to be in front at the beginning. Count one-thousand-one up to ten at the beginning of the race. There are two main advantages to doing this. This eliminates the spring start and middle burnout, which keeps you on a steady race pace. It also allows you to be near a pack of runners.
Taken from Pixabay
You don’t want to be the one that gets passed in the middle. You want to be the person that makes the moves. This is where you can start taking risks if you feel comfortable because sometimes adrenaline can carry you to the end. Besides, it’s more fun to pass someone in the middle of the race than the beginning. You gain a mental edge over your opponent too. It also builds a sense of momentum. If you are going to pass someone, you do it with authority. Let them know this is “your trail.”
Around the halfway point, you might start feeling your body begin to get tired. At practice, train your body to run harder in the second half of the workout. That prepares you for the race.
The final mile is a dogfight. You want to continue to make moves and pass with authority. At this point, your body is tired. One key practice tip is“shaking out” your body during the second half of the race. Every couple of minutes, you will want to take a deep breath, drop your shoulders, and relax the upper body. This could be every turn, straight, or whatever interval you want for yourself. In the end, your body has enough in the tank no matter how tired you are.
The final ½ mile should be viewed as an accelerating kick. The second to last 400 meters, you are accelerating your pace just a bit. You should have their shoulders down, arms at a chicken wing, and a strong knee drive. In the final 400 meters, the runner is building nearly 80% of what they have left. The 300-meter mark should be 90%, and the last 200 meters is an all-out sprint. You can practice simulating this by running two 300-meter sprints at the end of your practice.