How to Increase Speed in Cross Country Running

Cross country is an endurance sport. This type of running is aerobic, which means that your muscles are receiving an adequate amount of oxygen to continue a long run. You can test whether or not your are running aerobically by maintaining a conversation during your run. If you cannot talk, you are working too hard and run the risk of depriving your muscles of oxygen, which will shorten your running distance. Keeping an aerobic pace during cross country is essential to completing your distance. When you want to finish faster, training for speed is incorporated into your weekly workout sessions with tempo, interval and fartlek training.

A cross country runner is out for a jog.
Credit: lzf/iStock/Getty Images

Tempo Run

Step 1

Warm up by walking or jogging for five minutes.

Step 2

Accelerate your running pace until you reach maximum speed. Maintain that pace for five to 10 minutes.

Step 3

Gradually slow down your pace for the next five to 10 minutes.

Step 4

Cool down with a five-minute walk or slow jog.

Interval Distance Training

Step 1

Warm up your body with a five-minute walk or slow jog.

Step 2

Sprint for 100 to 400 meters.

Step 3

Slow down your pace for a recovery walk or jog for the same number of meters, 100 to 400.

Step 4

Alternate sprinting and recovery intervals for your total workout time of approximately 20 to 30 minutes.

Step 5

Cool down with a five-minute walk.

Fartlek Training

Step 1

Walk or slow jog for five minutes to warm up your body.

Step 2

Run at top speed for as long as you are able, but for at least 10 seconds.

Step 3

Slow down your pace and walk or jog until you feel recovered.

Step 4

Run at top speed again for at least 10 seconds.

Step 5

Slow down your pace and recover. Continue alternating burst intervals and recovery intervals based on how you feel for a total workout time of 30 to 45 minutes. Follow with a five-minute walk to cool down.

Tip

Include a tempo run once a week into your workout rotation.

Use interval or fartlek training once or twice a week to improve your cross country speed.

Warning

Check with your health-care provider before beginning an exercise program for the first time or if you have been away from fitness programs for a while, or if you have any chronic health issues.

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