August 23rd, 2013

Health N' Sports: Cross Country

Staff Report

Health N' Sports: Cross Country
Bailey Davis and Katherine Receveur are two of Assumption's more experienced runners / file photo by Conor Revell

Cross Country:  Louisville Orthopaedic gives key tips

As a part of the Louisville Orthopaedic Clinic, the Sports Rehab Team physical therapists are knowledgeable and trained in the latest advancements and techniques available in sports rehabilitation.

On a weekly basis, the Health N’ Sports Update will give information on prevention, recovery, and include special offers, as well as general health tips that would be beneficial to all. If there is a specific topic you’d like to know or hear more about, email future suggestions to

Cross country is one of the tougher fall sports, though not often recognized as such.  It takes great strength and endurance to run so many miles in both practice and competition in a matter of a few months, particularly as a teenager who also has a full school schedule and extracurricular activities.  Here are few things to watch out for and tips for runners (and their parents) to enjoy a healthy season.

The Beginner

A new freshman on a cross country team may or may not have much running experience.  There is a lot of pressure to perform as well as older kids who may have more experience.  While you have to push your body in order to improve your ability, building speed too quickly when you are not accustomed to high mileage can lead to injury.  A good coach will develop a training schedule that will allow for safe buildup of both mileage and speed.  

Overuse Injuries

Unlike many sports that involve a lot of stopping and starting, running involves constant pounding on the joints.  Some commonly occurring injuries in the cross country runner are plantar fasciitis (heel and arch pain), runners knee (patellar tendinitis, or pain in the front of the knee), achilles tendinitis, shin splints, IT band syndrome (pain on the outside of the knee, possibly up the outer thigh and hip), and even stress fractures.  Sometimes injuries are hard to avoid with the difficult training and meet schedules.  It is important to warm-up before practice and meets and stretch afterwards.  Strength training with weights all year round may also help to prevent injury during the season.  Areas to focus on with strength training are the quadriceps, hamstrings, and core muscles.


During preseason, a runner’s primary focus is training.  Once school starts, however, life gets busy and key training principles are often overlooked.  A teenager may drink nothing but soda and juice all day at school and then go run a several miles followed by hill repeats in 80 degree heat.  Drinking water during exertion is not sufficient.  To avoid serious issues with dehydration, drink water before, during, and after practice or competition.


Life as a student is busy.  With school, homework, sports, church and social activities, and college preparation there is hardly time for enough rest.  Putting in so many miles is tough on the body.  Sleep is essential to healing, and muscles are constantly healing during an intense season.  It is also important to get enough rest because fatigue can increase your risk of injury.

Q & A with Trinity cross country head coach Chad Waggoner

1. What is your advice to new freshmen and new runners on your team? 


Cross country is a process, a beautiful sport that they can continue to practice long after they graduate from high school. People in their 90s are running. Therefore, don’t feel like you have to rush your success. Plan on building a solid foundation this year so you can continue to build on it in the future. Have fun and enjoy a sport that returns whatever effort you give it.

2. What are some safety or exercise tips to new runners? 

Listen to your body and the messages it sends you. If you have something that is sore or developing pain, inform your coach. It may be a small injury that could become bigger if ignored. STAY HYDRATED. Drink water throughout the day and night. Have a diet that is about 60% Carbs, 20% Protein, and 20% Fat. Finally, make sure you are getting rest. Young student-athletes need at least 8 hours of sleep each night and would do better going up to 10 hours.

3. What are some of the common mistakes that you notice for new runners? 

Expecting to have credit card style success. In other words they want to be successful up front without putting forth the effort first. Running cross country, track or road races requires a personal self discipline and strong work ethic to become successful. Find the beauty in what you are doing first and then let the rewards come naturally. Maybe the beauty is: a chance to be a part of something greater than an individual, such as a team, having some time in the day to experience the natural beauty of the world, or moments of personal reflection while running… Whatever the reason to run, find beauty in it and then success will come naturally.

4. What is your favorite part of being a coach to cross country? 

Seeing a group of individuals come together to support one another for something greater than themselves. Medals and trophies eventually get placed in boxes in attics, but the journey to the destination with teammates who become family last in our memories. The bonds they make during a season will still be there at class reunions and weddings. The memories they make together and seeing those moments take place is my favorite part of coaching.  

5. What goals do you have for your new runners? How do new runners look at success for the first year? How does success change for runners year-to-year? 

That we want to invest in them and let them know as a freshman or first-year runner that their goals are 1) become a loving and giving member of our CC family, 2) learn to enjoy the sport, and 3) build a base so they can develop their talent. Success is not about a medals, rather about overcoming an obstacle. As we mature in our athletic career then new goals can be developed, but before we can get there we must first learn how to run.

Louisville Orthopaedic Clinic & Sports Rehab Center

Main Office: 502-897-1794

Physical Therapy: 502-897-1790


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