XC Essentials

Cross country is a grueling sport that requires strength, endurance, and athleticism. It can be a lot of fun too, especially when you're prepared. Read on to check out our gear recommendations for cross country, and make the most out of your training this season.

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Trainers ($100 - $180)

Great shoes are key for any runner, especially when you're training at the intensity most cross country teams require. Not all cross country teams require spikes, but a good pair of trainers to log most of your miles in is absolutely necessary for all cross country athletes. Worn-out or inadequate trainers can lead to overuse injuries, so it's ideal to get fitted for trainers by a professional at the beginning of the season.

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Insoles ($30 - $55)

Spikes don't offer much support due to their lightweight structure, so many athletes find that the structure of an insert help make their spikes more comfortable and reduce foot fatigue. Inserts are also a great option for regular trainers to add stability and reduce stress on feet, knees, and ankles.

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Technical Socks ($12 - $18)

A great pair of socks is essential to any distance runner. Moisture wicking socks help keep your feet dry and prevent blisters so you can put your best foot forward on race day. Even if you don't wear socks in your race day spikes, we recommend logging your training miles in a pair of technical socks from brands like Balega, Swiftwick, Feetures, or Injinji.

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Split Shorts/Short Tights ($35 - $50)

Run in comfort and style with a pair of running specific shorts. Split shorts and short tights allow for maximum leg movement, making them perfect for the final kick to the finish line. Look for running specific brands that feature technical fabric with moisture wicking and cooling properties and are designed to fit runners. We recommend brands such as Nike or Brooks, and BOA if you want to show your Tennessee pride with Tennessee flag shorts.

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Hat/Visor ($23 - $26)

A hat or a visor helps keep the sun off your face so you can stay cool and protected from harmful UV rays. Headsweats visors, running caps, and trucker hats are all moisture wicking.

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Sunscreen ($10 - $18)

1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, so sunscreen is absolutely necessary when competing in an outdoor sport like cross country. Since you'll be sweating and moving, you need a heavy duty sport sunblock that won't rub off. Sun Bum Pro comes in SPF 30 and 50, and is rated water resistant for up to 80 minutes, which is the highest standard.

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Body Glide/Run Guard ($4 - $13)

Oh body glide, lifesaver of athletes everywhere in the summer. Anti-chafe sticks like Body Glide and Run Guard help prevent painful chaffing where your skin rubs together.

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Compression Socks/Calf Sleeves ($40 - $60)

Compression socks and calf sleeves are a great training and recovery tool for cross country runners, because they help to increase blood circulation, reduce muscle vibration and post workout soreness, and increase coordination to the compressed area.

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RockTape - Kinesiology Tape ($20)

First used by acupuncturists and chiropractors in Japan, today kinesiology tape is used by practitioners throughout the world to treat injuries and improve sports performance. RockTape is a type of kinesiology tape used to treat injuries such as shin splints, plantar fasciitis, runner's knee and back pain, all common ailments for runners.

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Foam Rollers & Massage Sticks ($21 - $70)

Before and after a hard race, it's important to treat your muscles to a quick massage to ease soreness and minimize your risk for injury. Addaday offers a great selection of sticks and massage balls, and we love TriggerPoint foam rollers, but it's up to your personal preference which tools you take with you. At Fleet Feet Knoxville, we have a wide variety to choose from, just swing by and we'll be happy to give you a demonstration.

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Hydration Handheld/Water Bottle ($12 - $35)

Dehydration is the leading cause of training injuries, and excessive dehydration can even lead to death in extreme cases, so staying hydrated is vital to your performance and health. At minimum, you should be drinking water and/or an electrolyte replacement before and after a run. For long runs or on especially hot days, we recommend taking a handheld water bottle with you so you can hydrate while you run.

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Nuun ($7)

After a hard workout on a hot day, you may find that you feel overly fatigued or that you experience muscle cramping. That's because when you sweat, you lose more than just water, you also sweat out electrolytes necessary for muscle function. To ensure you stay properly hydrated and maintain electrolyte levels, taking an electrolyte replacement such as nuun is a great solution.

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