What Equipment/Gear Your Child Needs for Cross Country Running

If your child is interested in cross country running, you may be wondering what equipment and gear they will need to get started. Cross country is a sport that requires minimal equipment, but it’s important to have the right gear to ensure your child’s safety and comfort during practice and races.

To start, your child will need a good pair of running shoes. When it comes to cross country, the type of shoe you choose will depend on personal preference and the terrain on which your child will be running. Some runners prefer spikes, which are lightweight and provide extra traction on soft surfaces like grass or mud. Others prefer trainers, which offer more cushioning and support for longer runs on harder surfaces like pavement or gravel. If you can only buy one of the two, trainers are a good choice for beginners as they can be worn on a variety of surfaces.

Key Takeaways

  • Cross country running requires minimal equipment, but it’s important to have the right gear for safety and comfort.
  • A good pair of running shoes is essential, and the type of shoe you choose will depend on personal preference and the terrain on which your child will be running.
  • Other important gear includes appropriate clothing for different weather conditions, nutrition and hydration supplies, and safety and emergency preparedness items.

Understanding Cross Country Running

Cross country running is a sport that involves running over a variety of terrains, including dirt, grass, mud, and gravel. The terrain can be flat or hilly, and the course can be marked with flags, cones, or other markers. The distance of a cross country race can vary, but it typically ranges from 2 to 6 miles.

Cross country running is a great way to build endurance, strength, and agility. It is also a fun way to explore nature and enjoy the outdoors. Many cross country runners enjoy the challenge of running on different terrains and the camaraderie of running with a team.

When it comes to equipment and gear, cross country runners need a few essential items to perform their best. These include:

  • Running shoes: Cross country runners need shoes that are lightweight, breathable, and have good traction. Trail running shoes are a popular choice, as they are designed to handle a variety of terrains and provide good grip on uneven surfaces.

  • Clothing: Cross country runners should wear lightweight, moisture-wicking clothing that allows for freedom of movement. Shorts or running pants and a shirt are the basic essentials. In hot weather, female runners can wear a sports bra instead of a shirt.

  • Water bottle or hydration pack: It is important for cross country runners to stay hydrated during their runs. A water bottle or hydration pack can help keep runners hydrated and energized.

  • Optional gear: Depending on the terrain and weather conditions, cross country runners may also want to consider wearing a hat, sunglasses, or gloves. In backcountry terrain, a map and compass may also be necessary.

Overall, cross country running is a fun and challenging sport that requires minimal equipment and gear. By investing in a good pair of running shoes and wearing lightweight, breathable clothing, your child will be well on their way to enjoying this exciting sport.

Essential Gear for Cross Country Running

When it comes to cross country running, having the right gear can make all the difference. Here are some essential items to consider when outfitting your child for their next race.


Cross country running requires a specific type of shoe that provides good traction on a variety of surfaces. Look for shoes with a durable sole and a snug fit that won’t slip off during the race. Make sure to break in new shoes before race day to avoid blisters.


A good pair of socks can help prevent blisters and keep feet dry during the race. Look for socks made of moisture-wicking material that will keep your child’s feet dry and comfortable.


When it comes to cross country running, comfort is key. Look for shorts made of lightweight, breathable material that won’t chafe or restrict movement.


A backpack can come in handy for carrying water, snacks, and other essentials during the race. Look for a lightweight backpack with adjustable straps that won’t bounce around while your child is running.


If your child will be running in low-light conditions, a headlamp can help them see where they’re going and avoid tripping hazards. Look for a lightweight headlamp with adjustable brightness settings.

GPS, Map, and Compass

If your child will be running in an unfamiliar area, it’s important to have a GPS, map, and compass on hand to help them navigate the course. Make sure your child knows how to use these tools before race day.

By outfitting your child with the right gear, you can help them perform their best during their next cross country race.

Are spikes or trainers better if you can only buy one of the two?

When it comes to choosing between spikes and trainers for cross country, it really depends on your child’s running style and the type of terrain they will be running on.

If your child is just starting out with cross country running, it is recommended to start with a good pair of running trainers. Trainers will provide more support and cushioning, which can help prevent injuries and provide a more comfortable running experience. They are also more versatile and can be used for other sports and activities.

On the other hand, spikes are designed for more experienced runners who are looking to improve their performance on specific types of terrain, such as grass, mud, or gravel. Spikes provide better traction and grip on these types of surfaces, which can help your child run faster and more efficiently. However, they are not as comfortable as trainers and can cause discomfort or even injury if not used correctly.

If you can only buy one of the two, it is recommended to go for a good pair of trainers. They are more versatile and provide better support and cushioning, which is important for young runners who are still developing their running technique and endurance. However, if your child is already an experienced runner and is looking to improve their performance on specific types of terrain, spikes can be a good investment.

Ultimately, the decision between spikes and trainers will depend on your child’s individual needs and preferences. It is important to choose a pair of shoes that fit well, provide adequate support and cushioning, and are comfortable to wear.

Appropriate Clothing for Different Weather Conditions

When it comes to running cross country, having the right clothing is essential to ensure that your child is comfortable and able to perform at their best. It’s important to consider the weather conditions and dress your child appropriately to keep them warm, dry, and comfortable.

Cold Weather

In colder weather, dressing in layers is key. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer made of synthetic materials or wool to keep sweat away from the skin. Add a mid-layer of fleece or wool for insulation, and finish with a waterproof and breathable outer layer to protect against wind and rain.

Make sure your child wears a hat or headband to keep their ears warm, and gloves or mittens to protect their hands. Wool socks are also a great choice to keep feet warm and dry.

Rainy Weather

Running in the rain can be uncomfortable, but with the right gear, your child can still perform their best. Look for waterproof and breathable rain jackets and pants made of synthetic materials that will keep your child dry without weighing them down.

Wearing a hat with a brim or a visor can help keep rain out of your child’s eyes, and a waterproof phone case will protect their phone from water damage. Make sure to also wear moisture-wicking socks to keep feet dry.

Other Considerations

No matter the weather, it’s important to dress your child in clothing that fits well and allows for a full range of motion. Avoid cotton clothing, as it tends to hold onto moisture and can become heavy and uncomfortable.

Keep in mind that your child will warm up as they run, so dress them slightly cooler than the outside temperature. And don’t forget to bring extra clothing for after the run, including a dry shirt and socks.

Overall, dressing your child appropriately for different weather conditions will help them perform their best and enjoy cross country running.

Nutrition and Hydration Needs

When it comes to cross country running, proper nutrition and hydration are essential for your child’s performance and overall health. Here are some things to keep in mind:


Staying hydrated is crucial for runners of all ages, especially during long-distance runs. Make sure your child drinks plenty of water before, during, and after their runs. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children between the ages of 1 and 3 drink 4 cups of beverages per day, including water and milk. For older children, a good rule of thumb is to drink at least 8 ounces of water for every 20 minutes of exercise.

Water Bottles

Having a good water bottle is key to staying hydrated during a run. Look for a bottle that is easy to carry and can hold enough water to last your child through their run. Some bottles even come with a built-in straw or nozzle for easy drinking on the go.


Your child’s body needs fuel to keep going during a cross country run. Make sure they eat a balanced meal or snack before their run to give them the energy they need. Foods that are high in carbohydrates, such as pasta, rice, or bread, are great options. Avoid foods that are high in fat or protein, as they can be harder to digest and may cause stomach discomfort during the run.


For longer runs, your child may need to refuel during the race. Energy gels, chews, or bars can give them the boost they need to keep going. Look for products that are specifically designed for athletes and contain a mix of carbohydrates and electrolytes.

By keeping these nutrition and hydration needs in mind, you can help your child perform their best on the cross country course.

Safety and Emergency Preparedness

When your child is running cross country, it’s important to be prepared for any emergency situations that may arise. Here are some tips to help ensure your child’s safety while running:

First Aid Kit

Make sure to pack a first aid kit for your child’s cross country meets and practices. The kit should include items such as bandages, antiseptic wipes, gauze pads, and adhesive tape. It’s also a good idea to pack a small pair of scissors, tweezers, and a thermometer.

Prescription Medications

If your child requires prescription medication, make sure to pack it in their bag. It’s also a good idea to have a copy of their prescription with you in case of an emergency.


Ensure your child is in good health before they run. Make sure they have eaten a healthy meal and are well hydrated. If your child has any medical conditions, make sure to inform their coach and pack any necessary medication.

Ten Essentials

The Ten Essentials are a set of items that are recommended to be carried on all outdoor adventures, including cross country running. These items include:

  • Navigation (map and compass)
  • Sun protection (sunscreen and sunglasses)
  • Insulation (extra clothing)
  • Illumination (headlamp or flashlight)
  • First aid supplies
  • Fire starter (matches or lighter)
  • Repair kit and tools
  • Nutrition (extra food)
  • Hydration (extra water)
  • Emergency shelter (emergency blanket or bivy)

Emergency Preparedness

In case of an emergency, it’s important to be prepared. Make sure your child knows what to do in case of an emergency and who to contact. It’s also a good idea to have a plan in place for meeting up with your child after the race or practice.

By taking these safety and emergency preparedness tips into consideration, you can help ensure your child has a safe and enjoyable cross country experience.

Additional Items for Comfort and Convenience

While the basic running gear is essential for your child to run cross country, there are additional items that can provide comfort and convenience during training and races. Here are some items you might want to consider:

  • Headphones: If your child likes to listen to music or podcasts during their runs, a pair of comfortable headphones can make all the difference. Look for headphones that are sweat-resistant and have a secure fit to stay in place during intense workouts.

  • Personal Items: Encourage your child to bring a small bag with personal items to keep them comfortable during long runs or races. Items like tissues, lip balm, sunscreen, and hand sanitizer can come in handy.

  • Comfortable Clothing: In addition to the basic running clothes, your child may want to invest in comfortable clothing for training and races. Look for moisture-wicking fabrics that will keep your child dry and comfortable during intense workouts.

  • Sleeping Pad: If your child is going to be camping during cross country races, a sleeping pad can provide extra comfort and insulation from the ground. Look for lightweight and compact sleeping pads that are easy to pack and carry.

  • Tent: Similarly, a tent can provide shelter and privacy during camping trips. Look for a tent that is easy to set up and take down, and big enough to accommodate your child and their gear.

  • Sleeping Bag: A good sleeping bag can make all the difference when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep during camping trips. Look for a sleeping bag that is lightweight, compact, and has a temperature rating that is appropriate for the climate.

Overall, these additional items can help your child stay comfortable and focused during training and races. Encourage your child to experiment with different items to find what works best for them.

Financial Considerations

When it comes to buying gear for your child’s cross country running, cost is definitely a factor to consider. Here are some financial considerations to keep in mind as you shop for gear:

  • Budget: Determine how much you are willing to spend on your child’s gear. Make a list of the essentials and prioritize them according to your budget.
  • Credit Card and Cash: Decide whether you will use cash or a credit card for your purchases. Using a credit card can earn you rewards points or cash back, but be sure to pay off your balance in full to avoid interest charges.
  • Used Gear: Consider buying used gear to save money. Check online marketplaces or your local sports stores for gently used shoes, clothing, and other gear.
  • Seasonal Sales: Take advantage of seasonal sales to get discounts on gear. Shop for shoes and clothing at the end of the season to get the best deals.
  • Brand Names vs. Generic: Consider buying generic or store-brand gear instead of expensive brand-name products. Often, they are just as good and can save you a lot of money.
  • Quality vs. Price: Don’t sacrifice quality for price. Invest in good quality shoes and clothing that will last longer and provide better support and comfort for your child.

By keeping these financial considerations in mind, you can find the right gear for your child’s cross country running without breaking the bank.

Hygiene Considerations

When it comes to running cross country, hygiene is an important factor to consider. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Shower after running – Sweating is inevitable when running, and it’s important to shower after practice or a race to remove sweat and bacteria from the skin. Make sure to use soap and warm water to thoroughly clean your body.

  • Wash your running clothes – Your running clothes can harbor bacteria and odors, so it’s important to wash them after each use. Use a mild detergent and avoid using fabric softeners, which can clog the fibers of your clothes and decrease their breathability.

  • Wear clean socks – Wearing clean socks can help prevent fungal infections like athlete’s foot. Make sure to change your socks after each run and avoid wearing the same pair for consecutive days.

  • Keep your nails trimmed – Long nails can harbor bacteria and increase the risk of ingrown toenails. Make sure to keep your nails trimmed and clean to avoid any potential infections.

  • Avoid sharing personal hygiene items – Sharing items like towels, brushes, or combs can spread bacteria and infections. Make sure to use your own personal hygiene items and avoid sharing them with others.

By following these hygiene considerations, you can help prevent infections and keep your body healthy while running cross country.


Now that you know what equipment and gear your child needs to run cross country, you can confidently prepare them for their upcoming races. Remember to prioritize comfort and functionality when selecting shoes, clothing, and accessories.

Investing in quality shoes with good traction and support will help prevent injuries and improve performance. Make sure your child tries on several pairs and walks around in them before making a final decision.

When it comes to clothing, lightweight and moisture-wicking materials are essential for keeping your child comfortable and dry during their runs. Consider purchasing a few different options for varying weather conditions.

Accessories such as a watch, water bottle, and sunglasses can also enhance your child’s running experience. Encourage them to stay hydrated and protect their eyes from the sun’s harmful rays.

Finally, don’t forget to cheer your child on and celebrate their accomplishments, whether big or small. Running cross country can be a challenging but rewarding experience for children of all ages. With the right equipment and gear, they can tackle any course with confidence and determination.

[Video] For more tips on preparing your child for cross country, check out this helpful video: Cross Country Running Tips for Kids

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of shoes are best for cross country running?

When it comes to cross country running, shoes are one of the most important pieces of gear. Look for shoes that are lightweight, breathable, and provide good traction on a variety of surfaces. Trail running shoes are a good option for cross country running because they are designed to handle uneven terrain.

What are the essential gear items for children to participate in cross country?

In addition to shoes, children will need comfortable clothing that allows for a full range of motion, such as shorts and a moisture-wicking shirt. A water bottle and a watch can also be helpful for tracking progress.

Are spikes necessary for cross country running?

Spikes are not necessary for cross country running, but they can provide additional traction on muddy or slippery courses. Some children may prefer to wear spikes, while others may find them uncomfortable. It is a personal preference and depends on the individual child’s needs and preferences.

What is the best type of clothing to wear for cross country running?

Lightweight, moisture-wicking clothing is ideal for cross country running. Look for clothing that is breathable and allows for a full range of motion. Avoid cotton, as it can become heavy and uncomfortable when wet.

What are some recommended brands for kids’ cross country shoes?

Some popular brands for kids’ cross country shoes include Nike, New Balance, and Saucony. However, the most important factor when selecting shoes is finding a pair that fits well and is comfortable for your child.

What should be included in a cross country running gear bag for kids?

A cross country running gear bag should include a water bottle, a watch, a change of clothes, and any necessary gear such as spikes or a hat. It can also be helpful to include a small first aid kit and a snack for after the race.

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