In South Africa, the XC laps are usually 2km long. Number of laps will depend on your age group.
Warm-up and evaluate the route by jogging the 2km lap.
Knowing the route will help you to develop a race strategy. If you’ve run it, you will know how to use the route to your strengths.
Self seeding – More than one age category and mixed categories start together in the same race, ensure you get a good position at the start. Eg: All ladies except senior ladies start with U/14 boys. The boys go out very fast but often pay the price for the fast start later.
The start is “blitz vinnig” (very fast) therefore make sure you are ready to go at 100 percent effort from the gun.
After the first 500m pull back to a sustainable effort for the next three quarters of the race and the last quarter run as fast as possible. Kick/Stick/Kick.
Effort is more important than pace. You’re time/pace on the XC won’t be comparable to the same distance on the road. Rather race for position.
Set mini challenges in the race, like catching the person just in front of you before the mud section.
Do specific training sessions for XC. You can add one XC session per week before the season starts. Training will involve sessions with Kick/Stick/Kick repeats.
An Example of a XC session – Preferably on a grass track, do an interval session comprising of 8 x 400m, start at your current 5km race pace and lift your pace in the final 50m of the 400m. Jog 200m for recovery before starting the next 400m.
Incorporate a 10 -20 m steep bank into your track session . Each lap the athlete’s must run up and down the embankment. This helps to build leg strength.
Park runs are ideally suited to practice off road running. Go and do a few local Park runs prior to XC Season.
XC is a winter sport. The weather can change dramatically throughout the day. Be prepared for all possible weather conditions. Always include a change of warm clothes including rain gear.