Sprinters and Cross Country

Not a sentence you hear often?  Perhaps because too many teenage athletes are pigeon holed into a specialist event long before they should be?  Our squad is a speed based squad, however we are training athletes not events.  All athletes from Under 11 up to at least Under 17 should be participating in more than just sprints.  It is about building that engine, for example, we have the heart and lungs to consider when developing our bodies.  This is where we get the benefit of participating in Cross Country, it means we can get some more endurance to help the athlete develop.  We are also doing it in an arena instead of sending them out on a long slow plod themselves.  Will they ever win these races? Unlikely, but will they be able to hold their own? Absolutely.

Today was the Scottish Short Course Cross Country Championships held locally at Kirkcaldy.  An excellent spectator course and a beautiful sunny day to go along with it.  Our plan was to go out strong and hold the pace to the end.  First up was Beth in the Under 15 Girls 2K.  Beth followed the plan; went out strong and never let up.  She kept in touch with the main pack and finished an excellent 56th in a time of 8m 24s.  Next up was Ben and Sean in the Under 15 boys 2K.  Both boys took on the course and showed good strength all the way.  Ben ran the course in 7m 39s to finish in 80th place and Sean running his first ever cross country ran 8m 30s.

It was then the turn of the Under 17s; Ailsa, Aimee, Emilija and Sinead in the Women’s 3K and Joe in the Mens 3K.  The women took on the small lap with great spirit and looked very good, then had the large lap to go and they kept pushing. Unfortunately Ailsa went over her ankle slightly so we chose for her to stop to prevent any risk of damage. Aimee, Emilija and Sinead pushed on.  Aimee crossed the line first for the squad in 52nd position in a time of 14m 04s and as a counter for the Women’s team, then Emilija in 54th position in 14m 44s closely followed by Sinead in 55th position in 15m 04s.  Joe was next up and from the gun was fearless as he went with much more experienced cross country runners. Round the small lap he was up there with some excellent distance runners. Joe knew he couldn’t keep it going at that pace but hung in to not fade too much and finished really strong with a superb sprint finish to place 81st with 12m 38s.

Finally it was the turn of our Under 20s men Craig and Taylor, who had the 4K to run which was 2 large laps.  Both took off in a huge field and had to get those elbows out to defend their space which was a good learning curve for them.  They both worked hard and this time Taylor pulled away from Craig gradually over lap 1 and then maintained his lead over lap 2 to finish with a time of 15m 44s for 265th place and 51st Under 20.  Craig came in not far behind in 16m 29s for 305th place and 53rd Under 20.  Both had an excellent sprint finish to take over 10 athletes in the last 200m.

Well done to the squad and let’s keep showing everyone that we are building strong, adaptable, robust and quick athletes.


2 thoughts on “Sprinters and Cross Country”

    1. Hi Bernard,

      Sprinters and Cross Country is an interesting mix. My philosophy is to build athletes when they are teenagers especially. The cross country develops their heart and lungs and also develops their resilience as they are well out their comfort zone, but they learn to tackle adversity. We often focus far too early on building sprinters or hurdlers etc. I like to focus on building athletes. I can think of several UK sprinters from the top of our tree downwards who spend their time injured, always fighting to get fit for their events. My expectation is they were sprinters too early and never built that engine up. My older athletes who are out of the junior ranks don’t do cross country as they are much more specialised therefore have more speed related training. They are much more robust and can handle what is given to them as their engines are built, and yes it was built using cross country as a tool. Sprinters will always choose never to do cross country because:
      1. The don’t like anything that takes longer than a short period of time, 2. They think they will look silly compared to the distance runners and 3. Will very unlikely challenge for the podium.

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