Cross-country running, a sport commonly practised in the winter, is a good example of racing as a form of training.
This discipline requires the athlete to have, without doubt, good stamina: running on hilly and muddy terrain and in adverse weather conditions and sometimes extreme temperatures requires greater muscular strength than running on the track or on roads, and special training is needed to face these challenges posed in the winter.
Cross-country running, therefore, is not just racing for the more specialised athlete, but is also a highly effective form of preparation for racing on tracks and roads.
Training well for cross-country running helps to build up that stamina and athletes who go in for this stand a better chance than those who decide not to muddy their shoes!
Training circuits are also good for both the nervous and muscular system, and increase oxygen uptake and, therefore, improve the use of energy of the muscles. A session on a training circuit consists of the alternation of short runs of medium-high intensity with muscle-building exercises.
Here is a practical example: a 20′ warm-up run + various stretching exercises + 2×800 metres (3′ break between the two), alternating 200 metres of running at medium pace with exercises for the upper body + 5′ break + 2×800 (with another 3′ break between the two) alternating 200 metres of running at medium pace with exercises for the lower body + regenerating 20′ run or, for the more experienced, a final 5 km continuous run.
There are various types of intensive and extensive circuits the composition of which is versatile. And because of the versatility of this form of training, athletes can use it to prepare for all distances.
Winter is the key season for determining the success in the warmer seasons.