Cross country season starts up and parents everywhere wonder, “Just what should my kid be carrying to that meet?” Steve Sisson, former University of Texas distance coach and three-time All American when he ran for the Longhorns in the 90s, offered some pointers for what should be on hand. All items can be found at Rogue Running (2800 E. Whitestone Blvd., Cedar Park—the north store typically carries spikes, though other gear can be found at the 410 Pressler location as well).
There’s a lot of sitting around and waiting during a cross country meet. If your child’s school doesn’t provide warm-up pants and jacket, it’s important that they stay warm and dry before and after racing. Because weather is so variable in Central Texas, this water-resistant, lightweight wind breaker does the trick for warm, wet days and can layer well for cooler times. It’s light enough that runners can even wear it while racing. Adidas’ Ultimate Straight Pants can do double duty; they’re great for as a cover up and look nice enough to be worn as a casual pant for after-meet outings.
Food and Water
Be sure that your runner has something to put energy in the tank that sits easy on the stomach and liquid to keep hydrated. This Nathan bottle is handy in that it carries easily, so it can go along on cool-down jaunts.
Some kids will have lucky socks, Sisson said (he did). To keep the special socks good for the race, have an extra pair or two in the bag that can be used for warm-up and emergency backup. What’s cool about these socks is that they are thin—runners don’t want a heavy sock to go with their light racing flats.
Ultra light shoes are blurring the line between racing flats and routine workout wear. These shoes are lightweight with a firm midsole, giving a “spring-like” effect. They’re very responsive, which helps throw the wearer off the ground as he or she runs. Most brands have a higher- and lower-priced version. What’s the difference (besides the cost)? Less expensive spikes will weigh slightly more and tend to have a less breathable upper.
Cross Country Spikes
Everybody should have an extra pair of spikes in the bag. There should be replacements in the event that one breaks as well as an extra set of a varying length, just in case terrain or conditions are different from what was expected. Don’t automatically replace spikes; Sisson pointed out that cross country spikes might last more than a year, as kids may not wear them all that often. The ground in September can be just as hard as pavement, he explained, and spikes aren’t needed that often.
Everybody needs to do some stretching and Sisson recommends carrying a stretch rope, which can be purchased or made cheaply.
Parents and runners, get your questions about cross country spikes answered on Aug. 29 at the Rogue Running Cedar Park. Staff and coaches will be on hand to provide advice with purchases.