Cross Country Runners: Tips For Surviving Between The Seasons

Autumn is in full swing and winter is not far ahead of us.  Cross Country season is winding down and what will you do until Track & Field season begins?  Now is the time to find real discipline and commitment as you navigate the seasonal holidays that interrupt your school and sports routine. 

Perhaps your coach keeps you and your team training on a schedule, but most likely, you’re going to find yourself on break and training alone, maybe traveling, and most certainly facing holiday meals in the months ahead.  Don’t worry, you can find a happy balance.

This is your time to find balance between Cross Country and Track seasons.  Maintain your fitness, and give yourself a mental and physical break too.  This is the perfect recovery period from an intense Cross Country season.  Try cross-training and doing something you like to do other than regular running like pool-running or cycling.  A simple formula to maintain your aerobic endurance would be:

1) Easy warm-up for 10-15 minutes; 2) Spend 40-75 minutes exercising at 60-70% of your “heart rate reserve;” and 3) Cooldown easy for 10-15 minutes.  (Heart rate reserve = maximum heart rate minus your resting heart rate.)

As for nutrition, you need to keep balance of your nutrient intake.  Caloric needs are very individual, but the average high school athlete requires between 2,000 – 2,200 calories per day.  Your caloric intake should consist of a balance of:

Carbohydrates – your first source of food energy.  A high performance diet needs nutrient dense carbohydrates, so choose whole grains, vegetables, fruits, all of which contain vitamins and minerals.  Study food labels on products to make sure you’re making wise choices.

Proteins – athletes need an average of 1.2 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.  This is important for your growth, building and repairing muscle.

Fats – all athletes need a certain amount of fat in your diet for essential fatty acids required for growth, healthy skin and hair, and to insulate and protect organs.  You probably know to avoid too much fat in your diet such as deep fried foods and high fat snacks. 

Relax over the holidays, and keep in mind “everything in moderation” regarding diet.  Go ahead and indulge in dessert once in a while.  Just don’t go overboard on a daily basis and don’t let those sweets and high fat foods substitute for a healthy meal.  Find balance in all things.