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Cross Country 101

What is Cross Country? The Sport of Cross Country is a competitive team sport offered in the fall. Training and optional group runs starts in late spring to early summer. Teams consist of five or more runners who all race together at the same time with other teams. The top five finishers from each team are scored and their finishing places are added up for the team score. The lowest score wins. High school races are 2.93 to 3.1 miles long. The courses are mostly run across grassy fields, wooded paths, and have a mixture of hills. A great thing about cross country (abbreviated XC) is that everyone competes! Everyone runs the same course, and although the first 7 runners to finish are considered the scoring team, at every meet ALL (long as they make the racing team) athletes get to participate. There are no cuts, and no bench to sit on and watch while others play! (more…)

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Iron Deficiency

Low ferritin and iron deficiency anemia in distance runners: A scientific guide for athletes and coaches.

When I see a runner getting fatigued early on in workouts or struggling mightily in races for no good reason, there's one potential cause I always consider first: low iron. Iron deficiency is a significantly underdiagnosed problem in distance runners. Low levels of hemoglobin in the blood, or low levels of the iron storage protein ferritin, can have a profoundly negative impact on your ability to have successful workouts and races. Hemoglobin is the main building block for red blood cells, which carry oxygen from your lungs to your muscles. If you don't have enough hemoglobin, you can't make enough red blood cells, and as a result, your distance running performance will suffer. Furthermore, research and practical coaching experience suggests that low ferritin levels can cause poor performance, even when hemoglobin levels are normal. We'll take a close look at the science behind low iron and distance running performance, then analyze the best ways to treat and prevent iron deficiency in runners. (more…)

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Iron Deficiency

You head out the door for an eight-mile run. Right from the start, your energy level is down, and your legs feel heavy.  After 2 miles of uncharacteristic drudgery, you stop-then jog and walk home.

What's the problem?

Could be low iron. Iron is vital to running and performance. Despite this importance, many runners do not monitor their body's iron levels. Even many physicians do not understand the complete role of iron for endurance athletes. (more…)

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Uniforms and Equipment

Uniforms

1. Each athlete will be issued a uniform from the athletic department. 2. Athletes are responsible for the uniform if issued. If anyone loses or damages a uniform, he/she must pay for replacements. 3. Proper care is to wash the uniform in cool water with a mild detergent by themselves. Do not use bleach when washing the uniforms and sweats. (more…)

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Running Shoes

A runner's best friend

The most important equipment for a cross country athlete is a good pair of running shoes. There are a variety of shoes to choose from and it can become very confusing trying to select a shoe. The following tips will be helpful when selecting a pair of running shoes. 1. Communicate your needs - tell the salesperson you are a beginning runner and are looking for a distance running shoe for the sport of cross country (you do not want a cross-training shoe). You will be running on a variety of surfaced (asphalt, cement, grass, dirt, etc.) and will be running between 15-40+ miles a week. (more…)

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Get Your Mind Racing

KEY: long before race day, begin to focus your mind's eye on your goal. Visualizing success can help you attain it. Racing isn't the be-all end-all of running. Entering races, however, remains a potential peak experience that too many runners miss because they don't do enough prerace "headwork." Whether your goal is to run a personal best time or merely to finish your race, proper mental preparation will help you accomplish it. Too often runners spend hours training their bodies, only to line up on race day and suddenly find themselves overwhelmed with fears and questions: How fast should I start? Where are the hills, and how bad are they? Where is the finish, and what is it like? Here are a few tips to help you develop a positive mental attitude about running a race. (more…)