Gear Up for Cross Country

Gear Up for Cross Country

 

First year running on the team?

Here's the gear you'll want to have for a successful first day of practice and beyond!

We might be stating the obvious here, but you'll need a pair of running shoes.  Leave the AF1's at home and show up to your first day of practice in proper fitting shoes. You'll want to hit up a run specialty store (we think we know a place...) to have your gait and running analyzed. Everyone's foot and stride can vary and so  do running shoes. The fit expert will look for signs of over or under pronation, arch flexibility and assess what your goals are- how many miles you plan to run a week, what kind of cross training you might participate in and ask about any previous history of injury. 

Poor fitting shoes can lead to plantar fasciitis, shin splits, blisters, black toe nails and a mess of other issues. We know using your Kohl's Cash to scoop up a pair of trainers might be convenient, however may we re-emphasize how not cute black toe nails are at homecoming? Plus you'll want to check out the latest foams, carbon plates and cool new tech offered only in speciality running shoes. 

SOCKS

A small investment with a big return

Don't let your first impression leave people asking "did you smell that?" While the 10 pack of socks are certainly a steal, trust us when we say running specific socks will leave your feet and your teammates thanking you! 

Targeted compression, anatomical design, seamless toes and specialized wicking fibers designed to draw moisture away from your skin all help reduce blisters, odors and performance. Running socks are a great way to help you have a smoother training cycle. Check out our Buy 3 get 1 FREE Socks here. 

 

SPIKES

Best Cross Country Spikes 2021

Cross-country spikes are lighter and more flexible than your daily trainers, and  offer a snugger fit—enhancing performance and get you to the finish line faster. Depending on your experience level, the terrain you'll you'll be racing on and what you like as far as fit and feel will determine the best style for you. 

High-school freshmen? Look for a spike that will help you get through your first season racing 5K's. It should be reasonably priced, have a good amount of padding and arch support and feel comfortable when on your foot. We love the Saucony Kilkenny for a first time spike. 

State or Nationals bound?  You'll want performance features like free-floating eyelets, a bootie construction to provide a snug but comfortable fit and engineered mesh to keep the spike lightweight. Mid-foot carbon plates, extra pins and a stiff spike plate will help improve toe off and grip in a variety of conditions especially on those hairpin turns! You won't be disappointed with the New Balance XC 5K 

RECOVERY TOOLS

Don't let sore muscles stop you!

Inevitably you are going to experience some mild muscle soreness, especially after the first week of practice. While this is not totally unavoidable, there are tools that can help sooth your overworked legs and even better prevent real injuries from ever popping up. 

Foam rollers, sticks and massage balls fit easily into your backpack and when used properly, help stimulate blood flow to your muscles prior to running and alleviate tightness and speed up recovery from lactic acid build up post workout. Shin splints don't have to be an inaugural part of the cross country season. With proper fitting shoes, stretching, foam rolling and a gradual build up of milage (plus the occasional ice bath), you should be able to avoid pesky muscle strains. 

Legs feeling heavy and in need of a faster recovery?

After giving it your all on the course, throwing on a pair of compression socks can help increase oxygen to your muscles, improve circulation to the heart and speed up the removal of lactic acid, all of which enhance performance, endurance, and recovery. 

Sore in a specific spot or feeling stressed before a race? Try a massage gun! These percussive therapy devices deliver a targeted deep muscle treatment that melts away tension, soreness, and stress. Basically a personal massage therapist in the palm of your hand.

Survive the Cross Country Season...

Don’t get too fixated on times. Sure, everyone wants to run a PR, but when it comes to cross country, every course is different. Instead, focus on competing with the athletes around you. Learning to adjust to the specific race conditions will ultimately make you a better runner, and the PRs will happen before you know it!-Trevor Tomich

Some of my closest friends were made in high school cross country. It’s not just about competing (though that’s a part of it.) It creates a lifelong habit. It enforces a routine. It leads to friendship that can last a lifetime. It builds a strength and grit that you don’t get in other sports – because it’s you against the clock. Going after a personal best and setting measurable goals. It’s rewarding and you can do it any time any where with minimal “equipment.” 

 If it’s your first time running, you obviously need the essentials – running shoes, wicking socks, body glide  – but make sure to go into it with an open mind. Because usually running doesn’t feel great at first if you haven’t done much of it before.  The legs burn, the thighs might chafe, shins could ache and you’ll be tired.. like really tired after those first few workouts. Make sure you’re drinking electrolytes instead of water to help with the exhaustion and recovery. Body Glide will help if you’re chafing. Ditching cotton shirts and socks will make it feel easier in the heat. And just sticking with it despite the initial suffering will be worth it in the long run. - Jessica Hoepner

Know the course - Pay attention when you run the course before the race so you know when hills are coming up, when you're getting close to the finish, etc. This will help you be more prepared. Train in the conditions expected on race day. If the course will be hilly, practice running hills. If it's going to be really hot that day, practice running in hot weather, etc. Bring extra socks on race day in case your feet get wet during warm up. Take advantage of your off season. Keep running during the winter/summer and do strength workouts to help prevent injury. Having a good foundation of base mileage will get you in better shape so you can make the most of your season!- Audrey Barker

As a cross country runner, when I made my breakthrough it came because I realized you can still run fast when you are tired. There is also science behind the idea that you should talk to yourself positively and in the third person. "You've got this, you are strong." - Jack  Hackett


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