It’s well known that sports put a strain on the body, but few people think of cross country as being significantly tough.
Yet cross country goes beyond running. It not only calls upon the physical strength of the individual, but on their mental endurance as well. The sport pushes the limits of a runner’s body and can lead to some serious injuries.
Training for cross country, at least at Ohio Wesleyan, takes on a “holistic approach,” said Coach Matt Wackerly. He explained that while running is clearly emphasized, the runners work on their core strength in the weight room and the pool as well.
Senior Abbey Warth, a cross country runner, detailed their workout schedule as doing “long runs” on the weekends and “lifting twice a week in the mornings.”
Junior Sarah Fowler, another runner, elaborated on the regimen. They run six times a week with “one day off.” On their day off, they typically either bike or are in the pool. Fowler added the lifting done in the weight room emphasized “stabilization and fine tuning [their] muscles.”
Senior Megan Schulze, a cross country team captain, also noted that while the workout between men and women are the same, men put in more “mileage” than the women.
Wackerly added that, among cross country runners, the most common injuries are stress injuries.
But some setbacks can be as serious as bone fractures. Diet varies from runner to runner, but Fowler and Warth both agreed that eating well is their only rule.
At the end of the school year, Wackerly gives the runners a training schedule that they are responsible for completing on their own. The running and workout intensity is built upon and grows as the summer progresses.
Fowler referred to it as “probably the hardest part of the season.” With no one holding the runners accountable, it requires committed self-discipline.