MALMESBURY:- Cross-country racing develops your body physically and mentally
Often on the roads you see runners barely moving their arms, and they also do not lift their knees much because they do not develop much strength that way. But sometimes cross country running can be like running with a weight on your back. You really have to work with your legs and you can feel that they are about to get caught under you! While you can usually just knock on the road, your legs may start to feel dead, but they do not bend.
IMPROVE YOUR TECHNIQUE
Sometimes in cross country you do a jump or you run up a hill, and you are not sure if you are going to stumble. Or maybe you picked up a lot of mud on your shoes and it feels as heavy as stones. Either way, you build up tremendous strength: The hills and mud develop strength and resilience in your calves, thigh muscles and quads. The uneven ground strengthens your feet and ankles. Keeping your balance through all the twists and turns and dips is great for your core strength.
The challenging terrain lets you lift your knees, and it works your abdominal muscles and improves your technique, or your skill – another of the five S’s. And the relentless cycle of stress and recovery as the hills roll by will do wonders for your stamina – another of the S’s. In addition, the soft, forgiving, even sticky surfaces not only increase resistance, they also make you stronger, it also reduces the shocking effect on your body. When something makes you work harder and yet reduces your risk of injury, it’s a good workout.
Because you are forced to work much harder in cross country, you become more out of breath than you do on the roads. Your heart rate is also rising more, and that’s a huge benefit. Off-road running is a very effective way to develop your cardiovascular system, which produces a powerful heart, an efficient set of lungs and a dense network of capillaries to transport oxygen to the muscle fibers.
And it makes your top stronger too.
BATTLE IS AGAINST YOURSELF
Cross-country racing is a great way to develop determination and perseverance, to push back against that last limiting factor — psychology. The spiritual power that cross country develops will help you in any kind of race you try. Just as the physical tension is tougher in cross country racing, so is the mental tension. Many are the times when you will say to yourself, ‘If only I could climb this hill without stopping!’ At this point, you do not even think about whether you can complete the race. Maybe you will think about it when you get to the top of the hill. For now, just see if you can make this one hill without walking. It’s really quite difficult – but you usually do not get that feeling in a road race!
But you adapt to psychological stress just as much as to physical stress – by getting stronger. When you do reach the top of that awful endless hill, you will have strengthened and improved your toughness. With each success you will gain more confidence. When you experience those feelings where everything hangs in the balance and you run the risk of losing heart, but eventually overcoming that nagging voice that urges you to give up, your self-esteem gets a real boost. The battle is against yourself and the conditions, not just your opponents: these are good character building things! I think runners who do have cross country have the kind of strength needed to cope when it gets tough on the roads or track. O mdat endurance running is largely about how you deal with these feelings.
Spiritual power is not about being fitter than the other guy; it’s about sticking it out and learning to suffer and dig deeper. When you overcome this hardship, you develop the confidence, the drive, the ferocity and the aggression to really get the most out of all the physical training you have done. And I think it’s brilliant! The sense of accomplishment and the satisfaction you get from stretching tendons and limbs to the extreme is fantastic. In all those ways and more, cross country helps you to improve, whatever your goals are.
Unfortunately, however, there are people who do not recognize the enormous value of cross-country running, and see it as a bit of a sideline to ‘real’ athletics.
From The Art of Running Faster by Julian Goater and Don Melvin.
“The five S’s of Sports Education are: Stamina, Speed, Strength, Skill and Spirit, but the biggest of these is Spirit.”
Ken Doherty (1905-1996) American ten-time champion, track and field coach
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