Join your local running club
Running clubs are the first port of call for all of your cross-country needs. There are many UAE registered cross-country leagues throughout the UK, with a number of fixtures held every month. The aim of the game is to score points for your running performance on the day, with the results from each race adding up to the final score at the end of the league.
You can find an England Athletics club that is right for you here, with almost all running clubs partaking in the closest league to the club geographically. Sometimes the location of the fixture may mean traveling a little further, yet it's an opportunity to make the most of the day out and often clubs will also organise transport to and from the race.
If you're still not convinced about finding new running friends, read four great reasons why you should join a club
Run as a guest
If you're keen to continue running solo and opt out of joining a club, you can run cross-country without taking part in the scoring system, dependent on which league you enter. There is a small entrance fee and non-scorers often wear an X on their back to notify competing runners. If you're unsure of where to go on the day and who to contact, get in touch with your local league and talk to the race organiser before arriving.
Scrambling through mud wearing short-shorts in midwinter might not seem like the most enjoyable way to spend your weekend, but throwing yourself out of your comfort zone will be worth it.
You will meet a host of lovely new people and the tough training will give your fitness a huge boost. So be brave, be bold and prepare to get tough from one of the most bolshy forms of training out there.
What to wear
Short-shorts aren't mandatory but be brave and wear a pair if you want to embrace cross-country in true style. Most runners will be showcasing their finest corned beef legs in the cold, so join in the fun and get your pins out. As soon as you're scrambling up those muddy hills you'll quickly warm up.
Along with your bottoms, don't forget your safety pins, warm layers for after you finish and spikes for your feet. Running spikes will shave off some of the slip-sliding around, although we can't guarantee you won't fall face first into the mud at least once. This adidas XCS pair should do the trick.
Enjoy the experience
How often as an adult is it considered publicly acceptable to throw yourself down hills and come home covered in mud? Never! We hear you cry. Soak up the freeing nature of running in the great outdoors and you're bound to come out smiling.
Whether you're tackling cross-country solo or as part of a team, you will be doing more than the average person on a cold Saturday afternoon as you earn that victory pint in mud-soaked style.
Don't get caught short in your next race, read our 5 pre-race toilet tricks