How cross-coun­try run­ning trans­forms a ca­sual, run-of-the-mill jog into some­thing more struc­tured — and re­flec­tive

Sharp - - CONTENTS - By Eric Mutrie

Like ex­er­cise and fall fo­liage? It’s time you took up cross-coun­try run­ning.

THERE’S NO BET­TER way to en­joy brisk au­tumn air than by tak­ing in a few gulps of it at the end of a hill sprint. Mind you, cross-coun­try run­ning is not just more aes­thet­i­cally re­ward­ing than city run­ning — it’s more phys­i­cally and men­tally re­ward­ing, too. Tread­ing over dif­fer­ent ter­rain — flat ex­panses of grass, rolling for­est stretches, and steep in­clines — while keep­ing your breath­ing steady com­bines the phys­i­cal ben­e­fits of aer­o­bics with a mind­ful­ness work­out.

If that all sounds a bit in­tel­lec­tual, well, yes — the sport has de­cid­edly aca­demic ori­gins. In the 1830s, English school­boys in­vented a game in which a group of “hares” ran through the woods leav­ing a pa­per trail to guide — but also try to mis­lead — a group of “hounds” chas­ing af­ter them. Nowa­days, “har­ri­ers” re­mains a pop­u­lar nick­name for cross-coun­try run­ners. For an ideal course, chart a two-kilo­me­tre path that passes through open fields and hilly wood­lands, and re­peat this loop up to six times. Most large parks or ski club trails of­fer ap­pro­pri­ate con­di­tions.

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