Cross country running, a phrase that strikes fear in some and in others it brings back terrible childhood memories of mud, rain and cold weather. Like me, for most people, this sport is their first introduction to running. In my case, I have fond memories of being told I was the first junior year 3 pupil to ever make the cross country team at primary school and being part of numerous successful primary and high school cross country championships. But like a lot of people, once I left high school not only did I stop running cross country, but I stopped running altogether. A regret, but we move on. Well this week, after an absence of, what must be 20 years, I returned to where it all began.
Representing the Preston Harriers in the Red Rose Cross Country Championship , something that is part of my long-term plan to run yet another marathon PB next year. I think, I could be wrong it was Seb Coe who once said that medals are won in winter, and by that he (or whoever said it….) was referring to runners going off-road in the winter and building up some leg strength, key for running faster.
So that’s my thinking and today (15/10/2016), I ran in race one of the 2016 season, over in Leigh, a place near Wigan. It was a great course for someone like me, as it was fairly flat, all be it a winding twisty turning flat route. Also if like me, you had only completed five weeks of training after some time off, then you very much appreciated the flat nature of the course. I certainly wasnt ready to race 10k, although in true cross country style it turned out the race was 6.7 miles in length in the end, so my splits do show an obvious decline in pace. Had it been a 5k race, I might have got away with my lack of training, but over almost sevens, my lack of preparation hit home and I was very much hanging on it at the end, to finish the race in just over 44 minutes.
That said, I enjoyed the race, it’s very different to road running and you can find other runners either pulling away from you or being closed in on by you, just due to nature of the course. So it was very interesting and quite technical in places. I am already feeling it in my legs, so who knows how I will feel tomorrow. But it is my first race in quite a while and it’s nice to return to grass routes running after 20 years away (pun intended haha). Next up, is Blackburn in two weeks time, for what I am told will be a very hill race…….so more strength training I guess. And that’s the going to be a great thing about these races, I want to do well. But my focus is still the roads, so I do not need to stress too much over my performance.
Cross Country is very much in, this winter.
Onwards and upwards…..