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.
Stride Right: 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 REPEAT 5x
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.
For many fall sports athletes, the intensity is building as you enter the most important part of the season. But as you prepare for your most high-pressure games, meets, or matches, you’re going to face a different kind of challenge: cold weather. As fall turns into winter, training outdoors gets increasingly more difficult. But don’t worry, we’ve done the heavy lifting and researched all the top products to bring you our top recommendations of cold-weather training gear designed to withstand anything Mother Nature throws your way. So no matter what sport you’re training for this winter, you can keep warm outdoors with the right cold-weather gear.
Nike Aerolayer is another essential piece of training gear, especially when the rain, sleet, and foggy mist come around. Water-repellent and warm, Aerolayer technology puts a layer of lightweight polyester insulation in between a water-resistant shell and inner lining to provide warmth without feeling too bulky to move. And precisely cut holes in the insulation layer allow heat to escape ensuring you don’t get too hot or too cold while you train.
If you’re fighting both wind and rain, Nike Shield is the winning technology you need to shield you from the elements. The fabric, which remains soft on the inside, is weather-resistant against wind and water, so that even in the meanest storms, you can keep going strong.
Nike AeroShield provides protection against wind and rain without sacrificing breathability. With sealed seams to create waterproof clothing and vents to promote airflow, you can stay dry and comfortable while fighting the elements.
Nike Therma is thicker to keep you up and running through the windy winter months. Ideal for layering, it’s soft and comfortable while remaining lightweight and breathable. But the true technology in Nike Therma is that certain threads in the fabric trap the heat emitted by your body providing lasting warmth while the garment construction allows air flow in and out to prevent your body from overheating.
Under Armour ColdGear
For optimal mobility during sports, Under Armour ColdGear is made from a lightweight fabric that allows you to stay warm without wearing bulky layers. The material is designed to adapt to the cold by trapping your body heat and quickly wicking away sweat so you stay dry and avoid chaffing and chills from damp clothing.
Under Armour Armour Fleece®
Light enough to wear under another layer or by itself (depending on how low the mercury drops), Armour Fleece® provides warmth and comfort during winter. The inside of the fabric is brushed for ultimate softness and layered to trap your body heat.
So those are our top picks for cold-weather gear to help you conquer outdoor training this season. Whether you’re training for football, soccer or cross country, make sure you grab the clothing you need to stay ahead of your peers. And if you’re looking for a more casual but equally warm outfit, check out our cold weather style guide for this year’s best winter wear.
As you head back to the course this cross country season, not just any shoes will do. You need the best gear possible to help you leave your legacy in the record books. That’s why we’ve created this list of the best cross country shoes of the season. So, whether you compete in spikes or flats or just need a new pair of shoes for practice, eastbay.com has the best gear from top brands. So, get ready for your best season yet!
COMPETITION SPIKES AND FLATS:
When it comes to shoes for race day, you want to make sure they’re light as can be with ultimate traction to grip the surface of the cross country course, whether you’re running on grass, gravel, or dirt.
Take on tough courses with these cross country shoes. Multilayered, translucent mesh provides a lightweight, breathable, and water-resistant upper that stays snug on your foot throughout the race. The spiked version has a carbon fiber plate in the midfoot to enhance stability and support and features rubber heel pods, extra lugs, and six spike pins on the outsole to give you multisurface durability and aggressive traction. The waffle version of these shoes sports a CushIon midsole for lightweight, responsive cushioning and an all-rubber outsole for gripping traction.
These cross country shoes are a great option for varsity runners. Both versions are made with a seamless sock-like upper with FLEXFILM overlays to provide an enhanced fit without adding extra bulk. While both versions feature a full carbon rubber outsole, the spiked version also features a six-pin Pebax® plate to keep you leading the pack on aggressive terrain.
These shoes combine the lightweight cushioning of elite racing shoes with a more traditional fit and extra protection, making them a perfect choice for new racers. An engineered knit upper provides lightweight structure while unique midsole cushioning gives a responsive feel underfoot. Finished off with a lugged rubber outsole and six removable spikes, these shoes provide superior traction on every type of course.
These shoes look as fast as they feel with a multilayered mesh upper featuring striped skin overlays. Both versions are great, affordable options for cross country shoes with lightweight, responsive cushioning in the midsole and an anatomical rounded heel to roll with the ground. The spiked version has strategically placed lugs on the perimeter of the outsole to enhance grip in all conditions, while the spikeless version features a waffle plate with a rubber outsole for traction.
Even the best can get better, and these racing shoes are proof of that. A fully engineered mesh upper features ISOFIT that adapts to the shape and motion of your foot for a secure fit. The midsole is made from a super light, high-abrasion foam to increase durability without weighing you down. The spiked version features a durable rubber outsole with a six-pin Pebax® spike plate that provides unrelenting grip for your fastest race yet.
Built for training, preparing for race day, and beating your PR, these shoes are guaranteed to get you closer to annihilating your goals.
These running shoes are exactly what you need to get your practice miles in throughout the week. They feature a slimmer design than the last Pegasus model with less weight in the tongue and heel collar. The upper is made from engineered mesh, and the midsole features a full-length Zoom Air unit along with CushIon foam to provide responsive cushioning.
These versatile running shoes have an engineered mesh upper with FLEXFILM overlays to provide a seamless sock-like fit. A super light midsole gives rebound while you run, and a carbon rubber outsole provides durable traction so that you can comfortably put in many practice miles before the big race.
Designed for aggressive road runs, these shoes promise speed and support. The upper is made of breathable mesh to keep your feet feeling fresh, and the midsole sports responsive cushioning to keep your steps light and springy.
The end of summer brings cooler temps, changing leaves, and high school cross-country runners training on every sidewalk. Eastbay sat down with Chris Derrick and Emily Infeld of Nike’s elite Bowerman Track Club to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what this tough-as-nails sport looks like at the professional level.
Here’s their advice for up and comers:
Focus On The Big Picture
“My high school coach used to say all the time that the two keys were consistency and moderation, and I think moderation allows you to be consistent,” explained Chris. “I think that’s something that a lot of professional athletes, or high-level high school and college athletes, struggle with — the moderation element — because we all want to be really good, and we want people to think we’re tough, and we want to work really hard.
“So sometimes, when I should take a day off, I don’t because I want to have that perfect training log. That’s been a big thing that I’ve learned since becoming professional, just knowing when I need to back off a little bit and think long term.”
Keep It Simple
“Fitness is fitness,” explained Chris. “Obviously, at the elite level, the small differences are magnified in terms of strengths, but I think that mental discipline and physical fitness are the deciders, whether it be on the cross-country course or on the track.
“Running is a pretty simple sport,” he added. “It’s mainly just about working really hard aerobically and getting in as many miles as you can staying healthy. A lot of the stuff we do with the PT people we work with is just trying to maintain our strength in an ancillary way so we can stay healthy and run more mileage. We focus a lot on glute activation, hip mobility, all that kind of stuff that tends to be pretty poor in runners.”
Emily agreed, and emphasized the importance of not overdoing it right before a race. “You don’t have to hammer the day before a race,” said Emily. “Just a nice, easy run and then some good quick strides to feel like you’re flushing the legs out and getting good, quick turnover.”
Gain A Mental Edge
“Everyone’s just as tired as you,” said Emily. You just have to bear down and deal with that uncomfortable feeling. That’s what a cross-country race is. It’s dealing with a lot of pain and discomfort while you’re running and not checking out mentally, letting yourself know that it’ll ebb and flow.
“Pushing yourself in training and practice and kind of riding that edge enables you to — when you’re running a cross-country race — try and do the same sort of thing, pushing yourself to that level and seeing how long you can hang for — being tough.”
Above All, Love Your Sport
“The thing I love about cross country is that it’s really gritty, authentic, and each course is totally different,” said Emily. “It’s never cookie cutter. That’s what’s fun about cross country, just being super competitive, racing everyone around you, and just trying to see what you can do — putting yourself out there and seeing what it’ll get you.”
“You can just grind people down on the grass,” said Chris. “It’s just a really pure, fun element of the sport, and I think it appeals to my strengths as an athlete, as well. What I want to get out of the sport is to be able to test myself and find out how good I can be, and also just how disciplined and strong I can be mentally. Cross country provides an avenue for that that’s just very pure.”
Watch Chris and Emily talk about pushing their limits to increase their distance.
Hundreds of cross country runners from around the country headed to Nike’s campus in Beaverton, Oregon this past weekend to participate in the 7th annual Nike Cross Nationals put on by Nike and Eastbay. Teams and individuals compete in qualifying events across the country to earn their right to compete at one of the country’s top annual cross country events.
Weather helped turn the course into a muddy mess but that didn’t stop some of the country’s top athletes. For the 5th straight year in the girls competition, Manlius XC Club from Manlius, New York came out as top of the team. As for the team competition for the guys side, Arcadia XC Club from Arcadia, California grabbed the top spot. In the individual competition Rachel Johnson (18:18.6) from Plano, Texas won the girls title and Lukas Verzbicas from Orland Park, Illinois won the boys title with a final time of 15:59.2.
Along with the event, Nike and Eastbay had plenty to do for attendees. From capturing memories in the photo booth, to customizing their own unique pair of Nike running shoes, the upcoming Lunar Elite 2+ to be exact.
Check out some of the images from this year’s event below.