What is cross-country running?
Cross-country running is running over a field that is wrought with pitfalls, that is, a natural landscape. Cross-country running is also referred to as trail running. The course can be woodland, grass, water, mud or a combination any such natural occurrences. Cross-country running is normally done by teams comprised of between five and twelve members.
Persons of all age groups participate in cross country running, some for the rewards, others just for the fun of running. Some long distance runners use cross country running as a means of exercise to build their stamina and strengthen their legs.
What are the benefits of cross country running?
Like all exercise, cross country running has its benefits, both physical and mental. Anyone can benefit from cross country running regardless of age or gender. Cross country runners are normally quite strong, with a firm muscular body. Persons who are into cross country running tend to have strong legs and hips as well.
- Females especially will like the fact that running has been proven to help fight the signs of aging, as well as osteoporosis. Running also helps in fighting certain types of diseases such as breast cancer, heart disease and can prevent or limit the recurrence of strokes.
- Persons who want to lose weight will find cross country running particularly useful. It not only provides cardiovascular exercise but also helps to burn calories. Some fitness experts believe that running, including cross country running burns more calories than any other exercise.
- Because the area in which you are running tends to be uneven and not one straight track you will get a better workout as you end up using more muscles than in any other type of running. Cross country running, if done properly and on the right track, is less stressful on the knees as the impact from the earth tends to be much less than on other surfaces.
- Also like other forms of running, it provides relief from stress and other such mental problems. Running out in the open allows one time to think without the hustle and bustle of modern life.
- Another of the benefits is that it stops your training routine from becoming boring. The variety of motions required to run on uneven surfaces and the changing scenery work together to stop cross country running from becoming mundane.
Of course, there are a few negatives that are associated with having your kid involved in Cross Country running:
1) You will no longer be able to outrun your own child!
2) Your child will suddenly believe that you have aged tremendously – and you won’t be able to prove otherwise!
3) Your child will have a guilt-inducing comment for you each time that you reach for a candy bar!
4) Your child will want to go to sleep early BEFORE the 2nd game of Yahtzee has a chance to begin!
5) Your child will be stronger, more in-shape, and full of more energy than ever! Wow, good thing that he was not involved in Cross Country when he was 6-months old!
Yes, Cross Country parents tend to be quite proud of their Cross Country kids, as their involvement with the sport leads to better health; better habits; stronger work ethic; better discipline in all areas of life; and, who knows, maybe dad will even feel a tad guilty if he feels like skipping a day of running!
I have long been an advocate of getting your child involved in ANYTHING at school. Whether it is a sport, music, chess club, science group, drama, dance, etc., your child’s involvement with other like-minded people in a positive setting will lead to tremendous benefits for your son or daughter.
Now, after all of these years of believing that Cross Country was all about “a bunch of people running through the fields and the woods after school”, I can now say that Cross Country is a GREAT activity for kids, one that I highly recommend if time allows.
While there are many negative peer-group activities in which some kids engage when there is nothing else to do, I think that I speak for most parents when I say that I’d much rather have my son running 5-7 miles a day with his peers and learning and internalizing terrific habits that he will be able to use for the rest of his life!
Paul W. Reeves