Why I Run Cross Country
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Why I Run Cross Country

The sport that changed everything

Why I Run Cross Country

If you’re from the VHSL domain, you might know that fall sports are wrapping up their seasons right about now. If you’re even more attentive, you might also know that Virginia cross country athletes had their state meet this weekend. I was able to attend with my school’s girls’ team and our individually qualifying boys. The happy times and cheers for all my friends reminded me just how blessed I am to be running cross country.

Until freshman year, I had been about the most un-athletic person on the planet. I was a rec soccer player turned theater kid and the thought of any physical activity that lasted longer than an ensemble number was too much for me to bear.

During my freshman year, my friends convinced me to run spring track, and I was shocked to find that I loved it. But the following fall, I chose to try out for the cross country team-- a completely different beast to tackle. I had no clue what I was in for.

If you’ve never run cross country, it’s a five-kilometer race (or about 3.1 miles) across basically any kind of terrain. We run in open fields, through the woods, and on dusty paths. It can be uphill, downhill, in moving water, or pouring down rain, and you can still find cross country runners battling to run the fastest time they can.

I adored it. Not only did the training clear my head and relieve my stress, but the feeling I got from racing and running well is unlike any other I had ever experienced before.

Cross country pushed me to limits I didn’t know I had. I morphed from the girl who couldn’t run a mile in January to a girl who could run four or five at a time. To you, that may not sound like a lot. To me, it was everything.

It gave me confidence. It taught me to believe in myself, to believe in the run, and to allow my mind to be free of the things that tied it to the ground. If your mind is free, your feet can fly. For the first time in my life, I felt strong. I felt capable, and I believed that I could achieve incredible things.

My coaches pushed me to grow to the potential they saw inside me, even when I was unable to see it in myself. My teammates are my brothers and sisters, and my best friends. They say group runs are cheaper than therapy; well, they’re right about that. Mixing sweat and tears together create a bond that no one can quite replicate anywhere else.

People ask me why I run, why I “do that” to myself, and why I choose the hectic lifestyle that comes with being a student-athlete, but I don’t think I would ever want to choose anything else. The sense of pride I get when I cross a finish line, and the sense of pride I have in my teammates when they accomplish something great is irreplaceable. This sport is irreplaceable.

Why do I run cross country? Why don’t you?

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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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