Cross Country Running Lesson Plan

Instructor: Heather Jenkins

Heather has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in special education. She was a public school teacher and administrator for 11 years.

Consider using this lesson plan to introduce cross country running to your students. A series of stations is included to help students experience shorter versions of three different types of cross country training runs.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • describe cross country running
  • identify tips that help runners improve their times during cross country races
  • identify and describe effective training methods for cross country running


1-2 hours


  • Race maps (from local cross country races)
  • Cones
  • Stopwatch

Curriculum Standards


Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 9-10 texts and topics.

Please note that each state has different standards for physical education. Please consult your state's standards to ensure proper alignment.


  • Show the class maps from different local cross country races. Discuss the characteristics of the races in terms of terrain, mileage, etc.
  • Review the text lesson, Cross Country Running: Tips and Drills, pausing after the 'Come Up With a Motto' section.
  • Have students discuss the following questions:
    • How is cross country different than racing on a track or on the road?
    • What do you think your strengths would be as a cross country runner?
    • What would your motto be to stay motivated and finish the race?
  • Finish reviewing the text lesson.
  • Ask students to describe the differences between tempo runs, HIIT, and fartlek runs. Help students identify the benefits to each type of training.


Students will rotate through three stations to experience each type of cross country training mentioned in the lesson. To complete these stations, you will need an open area such as a gym or field. Consider breaking the class up into small groups to rotate through each station. If you are short on space, you could set up one station at a time and have the class complete it together.

Each station should last approximately 5 minutes. Be sure to have students warm-up and stretch before completing these stations. For students will health or medical concerns which inhibit their ability to participate in running activities, consider having them serve as timers or as course marshals, cheering on their classmates and making sure students are completing the activities.

Station 1: Tempo Run

  • To set up the tempo run area, use cones to mark off a rectangle the size of half a gym or half a football field.
  • Have students find a partner that runs about their same speed.
  • When you say 'go,' have the pairs of students start running laps around the rectangle while talking to each other.
  • Students should gradually increase their speed until it's hard to talk to their partner. Maintain that speed for the rest of the time period.

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