Five Fun Cross Country Inspired Workouts

Want to put some pep in your step or zip in your zapatos? Do you have fond memories of your days running cross country or maybe you feel like your running routine is becoming a bit stale? Consider supercharging your battery mentally and physically with one of these XC inspired workouts:

Unstructured Fartlek Run

I like to play with speed early in my training. A creative way I do that is through unstructured ‘Fartlek’ runs! Swedish for “speed play,” it’s a form of interval training that doesn’t have specific durations for your faster and easier efforts. You can decide to pick up the pace ‘til the nearest lamp post or bench you find, and give yourself as much recovery as you need until you’re ready to take it out again. This is an effective way of experimenting with surges of speed without a complicated structure, and can be done anywhere you like to run!

Uphill Pickups/Downhill Rests

One of my favorite workouts to kick off my fall training was fairly simple.

  1. Pick a moderately hilly route. (one that had some rolling hills, its not as applicable if you pick something that just climbs for 3 straight miles)
  2. Start off for 10 minutes easy
  3. Run every hill along the route at a moderately hard pace and rest at an easy run pace on the downhill or flat before I encountered the next hill. (some were 100m long, some were 400m long or more)
  4. Maintain this for as long as you want, or the whole route

I really liked doing this because the goal wasn’t to hit a specific pace on the track or the road. Instead the focus was getting a good effort and listening to my body as I was getting back into the rhythm of training

A Buddy Workout on the Track

My favorite workout from XC was partner 400 repeats. For the workout you need a running buddy that’s a similar pace, and a track. The idea is that you alternate laps around the track with your partner until you’ve run 8 to 12 400s each, a little faster than 5k race pace. I always liked this workout because it was challenging but also really fun to share a workout with a friend!

Ladder Workout

I enjoy doing a Tempo or 5k ladder as seen in the structure below with 1/4 mile recovery between each rep. Just focus on keeping the effort consistent, the form smooth, and the mind happy. Late summer and early fall is a beautiful time to be in Bellingham- get out on the trails and tear it up!

10-20min Easy Pace

1/4 Mile @ Effort of Choice

1/4 Mile Easy Pace

2/4 Mile @ Effort of Choice

1/4 Mile Easy Pace

3/4 Mile @ Effort of Choice

1/4 Mile Easy Pace

2/4 Mile @ Effort of Choice

1/4 Mile Easy Pace

1/4 Mile @ Effort of Choice

10min Easy Pace

Have fun out there 🙂

Progressive Tempo 
An absolute favourite XC workout of mine is a Long progressive Tempo run. This was a staple in High school and college and was a great fitness check for me! We would warm up and then go for 6 miles or so, route pending, trying to cut down the pace by 5-10 seconds per mile. Tempo pace was described by my coaches as something that we would be able to maintain for 50-60 minutes if we absolutely had to.  Typically this would be finished up with a handful of 100 meter uphill strides to get a little bit of leg turnover in.
I loved this workout as I was able to get into a really good groove and feel strong clicking off the miles! Always made me feel ready to go for my next race!

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