Rules and Regulations of the Game: Cross Country

In Cross Country, there are always rules, actions, and steps on how to win the race. They can include disqualifications, how to out-athlete your competitor and the best way to race. Here are some things to keep in mind when running a race.




In Cross Country, disqualifications can be critical to getting a PR (Personal Best) time or getting an individual win (meaning the first runner to cross the finish line). Getting disqualified means you broke a running rule (these rules are usually not broken). When this happens, your running time will not count and won’t be recorded. Here are some rules that if you break, you will get disqualified.


Cutting Corners: This is when a runner intentionally doesn’t follow the course so they can finish earlier. Usually, when a runner does this, a race official will tell them they’re disqualified. The only exception is if the corner is not marked well, the race official will give you a warning, knowing you did not know where to turn, and the right time to turn. But odds are if you do it again in front of the same official, you will get a DQ (Disqualification).


Shoving: This can happen at any part of the race. But this usually happens when 2 athletes from opposing teams are trying to outrun each other for placement. If an official sees this behavior, both athletes will be disqualified and will not get an official time.


Early Start: This is when the race first starts. This is considered a false start the first time a runner does it. The second time it happens though, the runner will be disqualified.


How To Perform The Best in a Race:


In running, you always want to do the best you can. Doing the best you can means getting a good time by finishing quickly. To run quickly, you must have certain abilities to do so. Here are some abilities to keep in mind.


Physical Ability: In a Cross Country meet, you are required to run 3.1 miles. To do this you must be trained well enough meaning you have been able to run the distance before and maybe even more. Without this training, your body is unable to handle a running course this long.


Mental Ability: You might be asking yourself, “What does mental ability have to do with performance in a race?” Let’s say you’re in the middle of a race and you’re in the middle of a pack (meaning a group of runners). About two miles in you see a steep hill that’s decently long. If your mindset about the hill is “I’m not getting up that easily”, you will slow down and possibly fall behind the pack you were running with. Now if you think “I’m going to give this hill one more shot”, you will push through the burning feeling in your thighs and calves and maybe even run ahead of your pack. This is how the mental game can affect a runner.


Emotional State: Just like mental ability, emotional state can affect a runner’s ability to run a race. Let’s say your sibling was hospitalized the night before your meet. If you are thinking about the worst thing that could happen to them, you might slow down. Every now and then there might be that athlete that gains Adrenaline from sad emotional feelings, but it’s better to just try to focus on your race and not that bad thing in the first place. This is how emotional state can affect a runner.


Negative Splits: “WHAT?!” Let me explain. A negative split is when mile to mile, your time is less. For example, as we said earlier, a race is 3.1 miles. You have just finished your first mile and the mile time is 8:52 right. Stay with me. Then, your next mile (2nd Mile) time was 8:45. “What does this mean?” This means that you finished your second mile 7 seconds quicker than your first mile. “What happens if my second mile time is slower then my first”. That just simply means you got a positive split, which means you got more work to do to maintain your first-mile pace.


Health Ability: By this, I’m referring to sickness. If you got a cold or worse, you’re not going to feel good during a race. If you come to the practice sick you will be sent home. NO EXCEPTIONS. DO NOT run if you are sick, go home and rest. This is how your health can affect your running style.


Pain: When it comes to a cross-country injury that will not allow a runner to race, it’s usually an injury from the thighs down, injuries can include pulled muscles, torn muscles, shin splints, twisted ankles, and more. Having an injury can really affect a runner during a race. Ways you can heal from injuries like these include icing, visit doctors, surgery, proper antibiotics for pain relief, supportive stability items (such as crutches, or a wheelchair), and the most important one of all, DON’T PRACTICE. Instead, go through rehab on your injury to get you back into the sport quicker without getting the injury again. These are ways that pain can affect a runner


Physical Ability, Mental Ability, Emotional State, Negative Splits, Health Ability, and Pain can affect a runner during his, or her race. If even one of these conditions negatively affects a runner, it will hurt them in a race in one way, or the next. As far as disqualifications go, Cutting Corners, Shoving, and Early Starts will get you disqualified. These are the rules and regulations of Cross Country.