January 2020

What did I learn from my first XC?

What do you think of when you hear the words cross country? Ill-fitting PE kit? Being forced out in the winter? That’s what I thought too.

So when the local XC series (Derby Runner Cross Country League) started it’s fair to say I was intrigued and was keen to give it a go.

The first event at Holly Hayes Woods came only a week after my back-to-back marathons. As it was on different terrain, I thought I’d be fine, so I packed a bag, met my club and off we went.

Upon arrival, we found the rest of our club and the tent and got ourselves ready. I merely had to take my coat off and I was ready to roll…

Men off first and then the women. As ever I went off way too fast, quickly realised it wasn’t sustainable (in my worn-once-only bargain trail shoes) so slowed right down. There was plenty of mud, woodland trails and a few streams thrown in for good measure.

With all the running and travelling of the past few weeks, my legs weren’t in top shape so by the end of it I was feeling really tired. Results sorted and it was a chance to reflect on my first XC experience….

What I learned:

  1. It wasn’t as bad as I thought
  2. There’s such a relaxed atmosphere – turn up, pay a fiver and run
  3. Running on mud is hard – wear decent shoes and tie up your laces hard so you don’t lose your shoe
  4. Be prepared to go for a wild wee – toilets aren’t necessarily available in the middle of a field!
  5. Take a spare set of clothes including trainers and socks – mud is a given, you’ll go through streams if you’re lucky!
  6. Bring a warm drink and snacks for the end – it’s winter and it’s cold
  7. Trust the marshal in the stream – they will catch you 😊
  8. Unless you’re coming first, time doesn’t matter – naturally, you will be slower
  9. Mile/km markers aren’t a thing and I’m ok with that
  10. Have fun – don’t take it too seriously and try to stay on two feet!

Overall I enjoyed my first XC. Is it something I’ll carry on with? I’d like to try a few more no-pressure races to see if I really enjoy it. For now I’m glad I went and gave it a go!

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