Cross country running is an exciting sport, one that provides plenty of opportunity to use various tactics when racing. Because every course is different, with its own valleys and hills and changing terrain, every racer has to take into consideration many different elements at the beginning of every race. Here are six examples of effective tactics for racing in cross country:
Cover the entire course before the race. Ideally, every racer should go through the entire course the day before the race. This avoids the problem of overexertion during the warm-up before the race. Each course is unique – it has its own opportunities in its own dangers to learn about.
Race in the right shoes. Before the race, examine the course and decide whether you need running spikes or racing flats. If the course is slippery or muddy, the right pair of cross country running spikes can give you a tactical advantage over the other racers.
Get into a good starting position. The race course may be wide enough to maneuver for position at the beginning of a race. But it can soon narrow into a series of twisting trails, where you can easily get boxed into a bad position. You should run the first 400 m of the race fast enough to place yourself into a good starting position, but not fast enough to build up oxygen debt.
Take advantage of every opportunity. Always be alert for mistakes and signs of weakness from the other racers. At the top of the hill, some runners might slow down, or they might ease up when running around a curve. Be on the lookout for every opportunity to make a quick and effective move.
Surge when out of sight. It can be very unnerving tune upon resume from unnerving for an opponent to turn the corner, only to discover that you have advanced your position with the sudden surge. Use the element of surprise to your advantage when you’re out of sight from the other runners.
Race against other runners, not the clock. A road or track race is different from a cross country race, where the conditions on the course are constantly changing. Trying to run an even race pace may leave you at a disadvantage, or even be impossible under the ever-changing conditions.