How To Prepare For Your School Cross Country

Kids Running Lindfield

At some time in their primary school career, your child will be expected to enter their school cross country. It can be a traumatic event for some kids, whilst others can’t wait till they’re old enough to get amongst it!

Make sure the experience is a great one for your kids, which will leave them wanting to do more. Use these tips on how to prepare for your school cross country.

  • Start to talk to them about the cross country in very general terms. Simply looking over the school calendar for the term and happening to notice when the cross country is on, is enough just to plant the seed initially.
  • Do some exercise yourself. Make exercise just something that your family does, not a big deal
  • Get your child familiar with the course of their school cross country. If you don’t know where they run, ask the school, or ask us. We know a lot of the courses used by local schools. Walk over the course with your child so that they know what to expect.
  • If you can’t go over the actual course, get your child to at least walk over the distance of the race. Don’t say something like, “it’s like running from here to the shops and back”. That can seem an awfully long way to kids. Much better to travel over the distance on foot with them.
  • If they are happy to do some training, go for a run with them, or get them running with friends. Try to get them to run slowly with you. Most kids will take off at the rate of knots and be puffed out after a couple of hundred metres. You don’t want this to happen on the day of the event. They will definitely go too fast at the start of their school cross country if they don’t practice running slowly before hand. Try to teach them ‘Jogging’ pace, or ‘No Puffing’ pace. They’ll still go too hard, but it should pull them back a bit.
  • Practice racing. Nothing makes you better at something than practice. Even if they don’t practice in a formal situation, get them racing against you or against their brothers and sisters, or friends. Remind them to slow down at the start so they have enough puff left at the end.
  • Whilst your child will feel great about themselves if they run the whole distance without stopping, try not to let them get so worked up about the event that they see themselves as a failure if they don’t make the distance.
  • Prepare them for what to do if they do feel too puffed to continue. Walking for even 20 metres can be just enough time to recover and pick up to a jogging pace again. Make sure they know this is ok.

Some kids take naturally to distance running, and absolutely love it from the start.  If your kid’s one of those, here’s a few tips.

  • Go in fun runs with them
  • Time them doing laps around the local oval
  • Emphasise the fun aspect of running
  • Let them decide how much running they want to do. Don’t force them to train if they don’t want to, but do use gentle reminders and encouragement.
  • Practice cross country racing, even if in an informal setting.
  • Do some running with them, or organise for them to train with friends
  • Encourage your child not to be too outcome focused. Placing well in a cross country race is awesome, and your child should be proud of themselves. Remember to acknowledge the effort as well as the achievement though.  At some point, every child, no matter how good they are, will be beaten, and if it’s been all about performance from the start, it can be terribly deflating, especially for those who are a bit fragile. Looking in the mirror and honestly being able to say you’ve done your best can go a long way to easing the disappointment

Awesome Kids Running Training Groups run on weekday afternoons on Sydney’s North Shore and Northern Beaches. Find out more

Cross Country Races run on Sundays in February and March. More info