8 Life Lessons Learned From Cross Country
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8 Life Lessons Learned From Cross Country

Cross country is more than a sport, it changes your mindset about everything.

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8 Life Lessons Learned From Cross Country
Carlisle Wildcat XC

Gut, sweat, pain, and laughter. These are just a few words that synopsize my short two years as a cross country athlete. Throughout these two years and hundreds of miles, I’ve learned a thing or two about not only running, but how these lessons translate to life. Cross country was not a sport I participated in for only two years. It is a sport I participated in for two years and will continue to apply the insightful lessons it taught me throughout the duration of my life.


1. Take a leap outside of your comfort zone. Always.

I’m a huge proponent of pushing my limits and doing things that require conscious effort to not grow content with where I’m at. In cross country, I went outside of my comfort level by joining the “daunting” sport of cross country, which isn’t nearly as scary as I originally thought. This led to me making lasting friendships and realizing my passion for the sport of running. This was also demonstrated every day at practice or at a meet, when I pushed through the final stretch to pass another competitor or beat my personal record. Every day when I choose to give it my all despite the pain, I was pushing through my comfort zone in order to improve myself. Cross country taught me that if you want to be the best you, you can’t remain comfortable and content with where you’re at.

2. Positive attitude is everything.

If you think you can’t, you won’t. There were many days where I would show up to practice discouraged from a long, stressful day at school only to be whipped in shape by my cheerful teammates. A positive attitude helps you accomplish things otherwise impossible.

3. Any situation is better with friends along the way, even if they are suffering with you.

In cross country, I was closer with my teammates than I had been in any other sports. Something about running in stride with people suffering just as much as you, physically and mentally helps you to keep going. If they can do it and their breath is just as heavy as yours or if they’re fighting through an injury, sore muscles, or shin splints, just like you, then you most definitely can stay in it until the end. It also helps to hear encouraging words between gasps for air.

4. Respect those who know more than you.

Yes, Tilus this one is for you. No matter how stubborn I was, at the end of the day the coach I always butted heads with still knew more than me about the great sport of cross country. All of the workouts I suffered through were not for nothing, they were to bring me and my teammates closer to accomplishing our goals. No matter how awful I thought his race strategy was, when actually executed, our team was more successful than if we had just ran our own race the way we wanted to. So, I learned to respect authority, especially credible authority.

5. Take time for yourself.

Although running seven miles, doing a hill workout, or doing a track workout may not seem like someone’s idea of taking time for yourself, exercising is the best thing I can do when I’m feeling overwhelmed with the stresses of life. Exercising can be uncomfortable, but every body yearns for it. Exercise boosts the production of endorphins in our synapses and helps us to have a better viewpoint of our day/life. Taking time out of your day to go on a run, lift some weights, take a long hot shower, take a nap, or just simply sitting and reflecting on your day is a great way to unwind.

6. Keep going. Keep pushing.

Every run I’ve ever been on, I have to set small goals along the way in order to finish the entirety of the run. I tell myself, keep going hard until that stop sign or keep running until that tree and guess what, not only do I go until I get to that checkpoint, but I keep going once I’ve even passed it. It’s important to remember that we should constantly be setting new goals for ourselves. Oftentimes, people accomplish a huge goal then remain where they are and stop pursuing their next goal. It’s definitely helped me to keep shooting for my dreams when I let my cross country mindset take over my daily mindset.

7. Chase the impossible and recognize how far you've come.

Cross country was challenging for me in many respects. One of the main reasons was that, there were always so many people who were always ahead of me. I’m the type of competitor who wants to be first, but in cross country I knew there were so many people who were better than me, who had a body made for running, or who had simply been running since they were little. Cross country showed me that I wasn’t always going to be the best, but that sure as heck doesn’t mean giving up. Instead, it fueled me to run every race to the best of my ability and to always try to pass just one more person. It’s okay to chase the impossible and not end up exactly where you want to be, but it’s essential to remember how far you’ve come.

8. Cheer, cheer, and cheer others on some more.

Cross country is the sport which, in my opinion, exhibits the best sportsmanship compared to all other sports. Go to a cross country meet and the atmosphere is so uplifting. Parents, coaches, people from other teams, people who’ve just ran a 5k as fast as the possibly could, random old folks, and many others cheer others on. It doesn’t matter what uniform the runners had on, people were there to help the runners to the end of the race. I remember many occasions after completely my race, where my teammates and I would run out to a spot on the course and cheer everybody on who passed us. Then, we’d run to a new spot to cheer them on once again. Just think about how much better of a world we would live in if everybody supported and encouraged each other the way spectators do at cross country meets.


I love cross country. I love the sport. I love the determination it takes to keep going. I love the feeling of brisk fall air being sucked into your lungs on an early morning Saturday run. I love teammates who encourage each other through the ups and the downs. I love all the lessons cross country has taught me and all the coaches who instilled these truths within me. I love to run and to continue to push my limits. Thank you, cross country.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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