Whether you’re new to the sport of cross country or just have new shoes to break in, this blog post can help you prepare for your best season yet.
When it comes to cross-country shoes, the first thing to understand is that not everyone in the sport wears spikes. Many assume that spikes are always the better choice since they provide greater traction on tough courses and allow you to dig into the terrain. But choosing between spikes and flats (sometimes called spikeless or waffle) isn’t as simple as you think. If you’re not sure which is best for you, check out our flow chart.
When you start counting how many miles you run while training for cross country, you can be looking at 30 to 40 miles a week! Most of these miles will be done in your long-distance running shoes, but when it gets closer to race time, you’ll want to make sure you’re not a stranger to your competition shoes. If you don’t allow your body time to adjust from cushioned training shoes to thin, lightweight spikes or flats, you could be at risk of injury.
Buying your spikes or flats 5 weeks before your first competition allows you to properly break them in so that come race day, you and your shoes are a well-oiled machine.
5 Week Plan to Break in Your XC Shoes
Week 1-2: For the first two weeks, insert blank pins into your spikes (if you’re wearing flats, you don’t have to worry about this). Week one, perform your regular training routine in your running shoes, but put on your spikes or flats for the last 10% of the workout (the final mile or two). During week two, you’ll repeat week one but add another mile to the final run in your new cross-country shoes. Anytime you put on your spikes or flats, make sure you run on a soft, grass surface. This provides an extra element of cushioning to protect your feet during the transition.
Week 3-4: Now that you’ve built up muscle, you can start incorporating your new shoes into your speed training. (If you have spikes, switch out the blank pins for 3/8” pyramid spike pins.) Twice a week after your regular training, put on your new spikes or flats and do some strides on a soft grass surface. Strides are a good way to start adjusting to higher speed in your new shoes. If you’ve never done strides before, they’re basically repeated 100m accelerations. Each stride should only take about 30 seconds.
Step 1: start jogging
Step 2: increase to 95% max speed for 2-3 seconds
Step 3: decrease to jog
Step 4: stand or walk for a minute
Week 5: After adjusting to your new cross-country shoes over the last month, it’s now time for a full workout. Now, don’t go crazy wearing them every day, but try one or two interval or fartlek workouts during the week. One option is the 43 workout below.
Continuous 4³ Workout
RUN HARD: 4 minutes
JOG: 4 minutes
REPEAT 4x without stopping
Now that you’ve got the process, you’re ready to break in your new cross-country shoes. If you don’t have a pair yet, check out our list of top picks or shop our full selection of spikes and flats online, so you can get ahead of the pack and start training for your best season yet!
DID YOU KNOW?
You can confidently order new track spikes with our Test Run Program. It allows you to buy the shoes, break them in, and see how they perform ahead of race day. Then, if they don’t run like you thought they would, you can return them within 30 days and get fully refunded.