Saturday, February 27, 2010

Why I hate cross country

I am a quantitative beast. I adore the black and white objectivity that running stats provide to let me know where I am at, how I compare (mostly to myself). I love knowing that I averaged my km repeats 3 seconds faster this week than last. I love knowing, to the decimal place, how close I came to my PB or bettered it (as an aside this is also why I hate doing fartlek work-outs). One of my important rewards for the work of racing is to have a time to celebrate (and sometimes bemoan) at the end of it. Placing, I feel, is completely irrelevant because except at a very high levels of racing (and I mean Golden League, World Champs, the Olympics) placing is so very subjective. It depends on things out of one's control. How can one celebrate finishing 3rd when the fastest runner in town stayed in bed that morning? How can one celebrate winning a local race when one town over there are ten people faster?? I have never understood what the big deal is with place.

But, place is ALL cross country has to offer as a quantitative result. Times are meaningless. Ok... sure... times can often not be directly compared on the roads as well due to differences in course difficulty, weather etc. etc. but that pales in comparison to cross country. I ran a 4 km cross country race two weeks ago in which I ran the same pace per km as I did in my half marathon last week... what am I supposed to do with that?

I whine about this now because I have provincial 4 km championships coming up tomorrow which, for members of my team, are "quasi obligatorio". The people on this team have done a lot for me to help me get my feet on the ground so to speak in the Italian racing scene and so I am happy to my part and show up for provincial cross country championships (not to be confused with regional cross country championships I ran two weeks ago). But it doesn't mean I have to like it.


  1. Okay. I know what you mean... but much prefer running on trails than asphalt. In fact, I love cross country. It is about the experience, sometimes the beauty of the trail and getting in better shape. I guess I've been using my training times (rather than race times) to let me know all my work is paying off.

  2. Yes, I agree, there are many boons to cross country and certainly not getting one's body beat up by running on asphalt is one of them!