Cross country running is more of a challenge than road running. You have to face hills, uneven terrain, changes in your stride and tempo, as well as poor weather.
These cross country running tips can help you overcome any challenges you may come up against.
Part of the thrill of cross country running is trying out different routes and types of terrain. However, becoming familiar with the terrain beforehand will help prevent injuries.
Taking a slow run to learn the steepness of the hills, holes in the ground and particularly uneven parts of the route can prepare you to adjust your stride.
Watch out for natural elements that may be in the way, such as rocks, puddles and tree stumps.
Take smaller strides and lean slightly forward when running uphill, and slow down a bit and run on your toes when running downhill.
Be careful. It's very easy to trip on downhill runs.
See our running safety tips for more advice on staying safe when you run.
It's not always possible to schedule your runs on clear sunny days. Keeping an eye on weather reports can help, but there may be times when you get caught in a surprise shower.
In cold weather, make sure to layer your clothing. Don't run in extreme weather conditions that could involve high winds or flooding. Remember, hydration is just as important in wet weather as it is in dry conditions.
Cold weather doesn't mean you have to work harder. You may think you need to push yourself more because you aren't sweating as much as you do when the weather is warm. This isn't true. Just keep to your normal pace.
A great cross country running tip: don't worry about your pace. Keeping up the same speed is difficult. Depending on the terrain, you may have to slow down and speed up throughout the route.
Down hills and over especially rough or slippery parts means slowing down to stay safe. When the land is smooth again, you will want to run faster.
If you are training for a cross country race, paying attention to when you have to slow down and when you can speed up again is important.
This will tell you how fast you need to go on smooth sections to make up for lost time on the slow sections.
Many runners find that Fartlek sessions help familiarize them with changes in their running speeds.
Running tracks is boring. You go around and around and never get anywhere.
With cross country running, you can create new challenges, explore interesting parts of town you haven't seen before and become a more well-rounded runner.
Plus the fresh air and wonderful scenery will lift your spirits and encourage you to run longer and farther.
The challenges of avoiding holes, puddles and running up and down hills will also give you a better workout because you will be forced to use muscles you may not be using on a flat, hard surface.
For many people running is a solitary sport. A time when they can be alone with their thoughts and enjoy nature. Other people like to run with friends.
The biggest benefit of running with a buddy or a group is that you encourage each other, and keep each other going. It's very easy to give up when you run alone.
But when you have other people counting on you to keep them motivated, giving up is not an option.
Cross country running is not about how quickly you can finish the route. It is more about enjoying yourself and enjoying the challenges presented by the terrain.
Conquering a rough course in less than perfect weather is much more satisfying than a quick sprint around the track.
After a cross country run, make sure to re-fuel. You have earned a good meal. Don't deny yourself this indulgence.
Also reward yourself with a relaxing bubble bath. Nothing feels better than washing off the dust and dirt, and soothing your aching muscles in a nice hot tub.