Oh cross country, why do you put me in such a predicament? It appears I’ve got a bit of a love/hate relationship going on with cross country and were you to ask me what I thought of XC during a race, there may be one or two expletives in my reply.
What’s the Problem?
I like running on the terrain, I can certainly cope with the distance, so what’s the problem? I think it’s my competitive streak that makes me want to run as fast as I can which then makes it a struggle over the terrain and distance.
Give me an ultra and I’ll settle into a steady pace and not care about any of the other runners. Give me a XC race and I’ll push myself as hard as I can even though the time I run is irrelevant and I’m not actually paying attention to other runners until the home straight.
It’s Just Running!
By their nature, races are not meant to be a walk in the park so I’m probably doing right by firing on all cylinders around the entire course, it’s just how to deal with the negative thoughts that my mind plagues me with during the race. After all its just running and whether I come first or last, I’m still representing my club and earning points, and that’s all that counts.
During the race my mind would be cursing me but I just focus on making sure my form is correct, doing the best I can on the hills, taking advantage of the cautious runners on the downhill sections and visualising the home straight and the feeling of elation you get when crossing that finish line.
Having a fellow team member that’s an experienced runner in my sights really helped. Throughout the entire 6 miles I made a conscious effort to keep up with him and I really think that helped push me myself further. Despite times when he broke away from me, I managed to keep up the entire way and finished one place behind him. That was when I felt I had achieved what I set out to do at the start: my best.
Ditch the Negativity and Concentrate on the Highs
As with every cross country race before this one, I come away from the race feeling unsure about whether this is for me but by the next day, my mind has started erasing all the negative elements of the race and focused just on the highs, and that’s when I start looking towards the next race.
Race Route and Analysis