Ever wondered why some runners are better at X/C than road and vice versa?
I was thinking my running style works well on the road but not on the cross country.
Talking about this to Team mate Matt on Saturday he mentioned that he had noticed that good X/C runners had a high knee lift!
I remember a very good runner in our club called Kevin Taylor, he had given me some advice on running over mud, he'd said it was important to work at driving the knees!
On the road the natural stretch-reflex action of the hip flexors means you don't need to think about driving the knees forward BUT on soft surfaces its a different matter.
The mud holds your foot down and slows the forward swing of the leg, driving the knee forward pulls the foot out of the slime and increases leg speed!
I also found this article by Brian Mac on X/c running technique which you might find useful.
As the going is softer and often slippery, the stride length must naturally be shorter. If you use the road-running action, with the heel striking the ground well in front of the body, you are likely to skid. Similarly, if your back leg is to far back, you will lose something in the push-off. A shorter stride requires greater leg speed made more difficult by the fact that there is less elastic return. In road and track running energy is stored by compression of ligaments and tendons in the ankle and knee joints. When running on soft surfaces, much of the energy is lost in compressing the ground underneath, so less is stored in the joints. This means that the runner has to bend the legs slightly more at the knees and ankles and use more effort in straightening them. The athlete will have to make a more deliberate effort to pick the thighs up, which requires more work from the muscles that run from the pelvis to the thigh, and this in turn imposes a greater strain on the abdominal muscles, which have to hold the torso rigid while all this effort is going on.
Where as the efficient road or track runner can glide along relying on bounce and balance to make the work easier, the cross-country runner has to muscle their way along. As the ground beneath their feet is uneven, the runner has to make constant adjustments in balance, using more muscles. Even the angle of the foot will be different. When running on hard surfaces the straight line from heel to toe should be pointing in the direction you are running. On soft surfaces it is necessary to point the toes slightly outwards, so that you slip less. This is less economical than running in a straight line, but the wetter and softer the surface, the more it is necessary.
RicksRunning say; Maybe I shouldn't be giving you all this information, as I guess you could use it against me in the next X/C race!
But I believe in good karma and maybe something good will come my way :0]
P.S. spread the good karma and leave your X/C running tips in the comments section.