The start of the cross country season always hits me by surprise. Not because I don’t know it’s coming, but because of the hot afternoon runs, the influx of miles on my feet, and the drastic change in my schedule. It always just feels like I’ve been steamrolled that first week of the season.
Over the last six years that I’ve been coaching cross country, there are a few essentials I need and tricks I’ve learned to make the start of my busy season a success.
1. Keep My Planner Update To Date
Yes, I still keep a paper planner! If I don’t write things down, I’ll usually forget them, even if it’s in Google. For REALLY important things (things that I would get fired for if I forgot), I’ll put them in my paper planner and in Google and set multiple reminders! However, just the act of writing things down helps keep me organized.
2. Always Have Water (and Electrolytes) On Hand
When the season starts, practices are at 3:15 in the afternoon. This is quite the shock as we usually run at 8:00am during the summer. The first week is always hard as my body adjusts to running in the bright sun and the 90 degree-plus weather! This year, as I’m coming back from having a baby, it’s been especially hard. I’m glad I have Gatorade Endurance to fuel my journey back into the running world!
3. Sunscreen, Sunscreen, Sunscreen! (And Hat and Sunglasses)
I have learned just to always have a tube of sunscreen with me! Usually, it just stays in my car or the backpack that I bring to meets. This year I’ve found the perfect sunscreen for runners; the Sawyer Stay-Put SPF 30 Sunscreen doesn’t run in your eyes and lasts longer than any brand! It’s been perfect for long cross country meets when I get too busy running around the course to cheer on and coach the kids. Adding a hat and pair of sunglasses to your kit doesn’t hurt either!
During practice, sometimes I get so caught up in making the kids do what they’re supposed to do that I forget to stretch and roll out myself, leaving me very sore and tight. I always have to remind myself that I also need to stretch and recover!
5. Keep hair ties EVERYWHERE
In the car, in my backpack, on my wrist…just have hair ties everywhere.
6. Keep Snacks On Hand!
This is super important. No matter what, it never fails that I’m hungry right before practice. It doesn’t seem to matter when I eat lunch, I always feel hungry just before we’re about to run. I’ve learned to keep granola bars on hand, for emergencies, and to pack snacks in my lunch bag for this case. The FBOMB nut butters have been perfect this year for a quick, healthy snack and great fuel before a run.
7. Have Back-Up Gear In The Car.
I’m usually pretty good about bringing what I need with me for the whole day. Occasionally I forget, however, I keep back-ups in my car! Usually this is a pair of running shoes that aren’t great anymore (but okay in a bind), a pair of socks, and a running outfit (one that I may not like that much, but will work in an emergency). That way, if I forget my socks (this is usually the number one item I forget to pack), I have a backup!
Do you have a time of year that is always just a bit more busy than normal? Maybe when your kids go back to school (or maybe when they’re are out of school?). Or do you work multiple jobs like me and one of them is seasonal? I hope these seven tips and tricks will help you manage the next busy season in your life!