Cross- Country

Cross-country runners have as much strength mentally, as body builders do physically. While cross country is not put on a throne like other fall sports, it is indeed a sport, the workouts and practices are just as intense. Just like the other teams the runners are passionate about what they do, often feeling like their sport is misunderstood. Athletes tend to shy away from joining but for what reasons; indeed, it is something one cannot automatically be good at but something that takes practice to become good at. Cross-country intimidates people because it is a battle of the will, body and mind.

The intimidation of cross-country comes from the fact that it is a battle of ones will. It requires dedication just like any other sport; practice every weekday and Saturdays at 6 A.M. that alone is mentally exhausting and demanding as well as physically but being able to not let it beat one up will get them far. Being able to realize what amazing progress one makes in a matter of weeks or days, makes the runners passion grow for what they are doing. “When you put yourself on the line in a race and expose yourself to the unknown you learn things about yourself that are very exciting.” (Doris Brown Heritage) While having a strong will is important, there are other factors one must deal with if wanting to run cross-country.

Cross-country intimidates people because it is a battle of the body. Cross-country takes more of a physical toll than one might think, running anywhere from three to nine miles a practice if not more is asking a lot of the human body. Being sore is common at the beginning but it is things like: runners knee (kneecap erosion), stress fractures, shin splints, plantar fasciitis (foot arch), Achilles tendonitis, muscle pulls, ankle sprains, and blisters are also common and some of them can continue to run with these and not do any permanent damage. In most cases these can be cured with patience persistence of the stretches and rehabilitation for that injury. The key of this sport is eating the right foods and drinking proper amounts of water throughout the day. Of course eating healthy and drinking water does not mean one can eat all the time in large quantities, it is never a good idea to eat a lot within two hours of practice or a big meet, giving the food some time to digest makes a difference in how the runner feels before, during, and after. If the runner does decide to eat which tends to be a good idea, try something with a lot of carbohydrates, with the way the enzymes work it makes for a better workout.

Because it is a battle of the mind, people get timid by the idea of running cross-country, “Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.” (Anonymous) Going to practice on any given day a runner might be expected to run three miles, or to run double or triple that, it is a mental battle especially knowing there are paces to be met ranging from five minute miles to ten minute miles. Different courses offer different distractions and being able to block them out and continue focusing on breathing, strides and paces is an important skill to have. Even on the worst days, having the mental strength to push through it and get it done is what this sport is all about. Fear strikes the runners minds when hills are factored into a course, the key is mentally knowing that one needs to keep that same pace up and down the hill in order to not lose any time because hills are a great opportunity to pass people and catch up to others, which gets a team more points. “Running is a mental sport, and we’re all insane.” (Anonymous) The mental power one must have to compete in cross-country is remarkable, and at times almost impossible to comprehend.

Those who run it love it, and others wonder about it. Cross-country wither strikes peoples interests, or bores them, it is free to come watch and it may not be as jam packed full of excitement and action but to the runners and their families the races are as adrenaline rushing as kick off at the Friday night football game. Cross-country is no just about running long distance, speed is a factor as well as the battles of the will, body and mind. They come with the territory, accept it or not that is how they are, and it is not for everybody but the experience is worthwhile.





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