Cross country is a sport defined by variability. No two cross country courses are alike — be it terrain or weather conditions. Most of the time, though, cross-country takes place on grass or dirt fields, with undulating elevation under an uncertain fall sky. Gritty, right? Yep. And to do it well, you need a solid pair of flats.
Here’s what you need to know before you buy your first pair:
1 - The same pair of flats should last you several seasons.
Unlike training shoes, which need replacing every few hundred miles, cross country flats should last you at least two seasons. That’s because you usually only wear them to race. So, read on to learn why.
2 - Cross country flats are different than track spikes.
All spikes are designed differently, whether you’re running the 100-meter dash or a 5K. So, don’t take a pair of sprint spikes out on a cross-country course. Ever. In general, cross-country flats offer more cushioning and tread than track spikes since they're designed for racing on uneven terrain.
3 - Where you race matters.
Mostly because terrain determines footwear and, as you already know, no two flats are created alike. So, if you tend to race in a wet climate on steep cross country courses that may have water crossings, be sure to take home a flat with aggressive traction.
4 - The design and fit matter.
Just because a flat is marketed as the lightest, fastest shoe out there, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right shoe for you. For some cross country runners, a little bit of cushion and support goes a long way on uneven terrain. Other runners feel totally fine in a stripped-down-to-nothing sock like flat. How do you know what works for you? Good question. Onto number five. ...
5 - Attend a local xc night at your running store for a personalized fit.
It’s one thing to research flats online and read articles like this one. But, it’s quite another to talk to a fit expert in person, slip a shoe onto your foot and ask questions. Many local running stores offer xc nights for middle- and high-school runners in the late summer and early fall. These team shoe fitting events are an ideal place for footwear education and fun (sometimes stores host raffles, offer snacks, host talks or all of the above!). An added bonus: stores often provide discounts for student-athletes. Yep, yet another incentive to shop in-store.
Call us to book your school’s xc night.
New Balance XC R7 - $65
Nike Zoom Rival Waffle - $65
Nike Zoom Streak LT 3 - $80
Nike Zoom Victory Waffle 4 - $120
Saucony Kilkenny XC7 - $55
Saucony Havok XC2 - $75
And remember! We offer 15% off all racing flats to students on club or high school teams! Just be sure to let us know whom you are racing for... Good Luck out there!