Cross country running competitions are usually held on dirt or grass tracks and can cover forest areas, woodlands, open fields and country. While the terrain may sometimes include gravel and the crossing of streams and rivers, grass tracks are recommended as they are the softest, most comfortable running tracks available. This is important to athletes as it minimizes the impact on the feet, ankles, and knees. Proper impact-reducing footwear is also necessary for cross country runners. Men and women of all ages can participate in these open-air running competitions, and they often take place regardless of weather conditions throughout the entire year.
Cross country races are generally between five and fifteen kilometers in length and require extensive fitness training to compete at professional levels in competitions such as the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) World Cross Country Championship. The best training techniques incorporate pace change and intervals workouts, with jogging recovery periods to improve fitness for the purposes of constant pace change. Changing pace throughout the run is important because athletes need to play to their strengths. For example, if a runner is particularly well suited towards downhill running, they would try to increase their pace in these sections of the race.
Recovery, downtime, and relaxation in preparation for a cross country race are also very important in order to allow the muscles to have restoration time. Athletes and recreational runners alike can participate in games such as solitaire, poker, and roulette online after training to take their minds off muscle and joint pain in some much-needed downtime. In preparation for race day, athletes should also ensure that they maintain proper sleeping habits, diet, and of course, regular exercise with adequate stretching. Supplements and vitamins can aid in muscle repair and growth, and facilitate appropriate use of energy and nutrients.