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How running has changed my life

The+cross+country+team+huddles+up+before+their+district+meet+race
The cross country team huddles up before their district meet race

The cross country team huddles up before their district meet race

Photo courtesy of Matthew Denlinger

Photo courtesy of Matthew Denlinger

The cross country team huddles up before their district meet race

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Running has changed my life. Every aspect of it enhances how I look at everyday subjects and situations. It has taught me many valuable lessons.

During the summer before my freshman year, high school wasn’t something I was particularly looking forward to. Although I felt that way at the time, once I joined the cross country team, everything changed. Not only were the coaches fully accepting, but so were all of my teammates. My transition to high school was so much smoother than it might have been because I joined the cross country team. I was now able to see more familiar faces throughout the halls and felt more as though I belonged.

Running distance, like we do in cross country, is as much a physical struggle as a mental struggle. Many of the times that a person feels like they want to quit is a mental barrier that is tough to overcome. To be a distance runner, a person has to have discipline. Being told many times to go and run seven miles at 6:15 per mile pace doesn’t sound like the sort of thing that a person would like to do. But, as distance runners, we all know that through the pain we endure, we are just getting faster and faster. In fact, that’s the only effective way to improve. The thought of quitting passes through all of our minds, but there is always a motive to never stop. This view not only connects to running, but to school and life.

Although running has had a major impact on my life, it hasn’t always been a part of my life. Since I was four years old I’ve played soccer every fall, spring and most summers of my life. But, that all came to a close on August 1, 2017. During the summer, I had decided on whether to try running on the HHS cross country team or play soccer like every other year. I chose cross country. I went to practice the first day of the season and I really understood why everyone on that team kept showing up every year.

In one three-and-a-half-month season, I grew extremely close to the team. All I’ve been able think about since the season ended is how different the team will be next year. With one coach leaving and many seniors graduating, our team will be left without as much of a family feeling anymore. However, as the next season progresses, we will ultimately be left with a new family.

Running has also taught me to always find a way to stay motivated. This transfers into school and my everyday life. People who haven’t played sports don’t understand that even though you’ve done everything to prepare through training and getting in the right mindset, some races just don’t go as you hoped they would. After races like those, all you can do is get even more motivated to work harder in practices leading up to the next meet. Throughout the season, everyone has a race in which they don’t perform as they had hoped. Although the team always knows that the person is capable of more, I found that there is nothing but support of that person after their performance.

All of the love and support occurs not only because of the sport and the team, but because of the coaches too. Coaches are especially important in cross country. They are always there to make you a better athlete and to also make you a better person. Throughout the hard times, they’re always there by your side. It’s not only the competition and training that’s important in cross country, it’s the people that you have surrounding you to help you through it all.

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