When many runners begin cross country, they are hyped up and ready to compete. It’s easy to roll out of bed in the mornings, grab some cereal, and head out to practice. However, as the season goes on, cross country runners’ excitement starts to fade, and the coach is stuck with an almost useless athlete. No more drive, no more willpower, no more energy. Why is this you might ask? Well, there are many reasons, but since most of my high school career involved participating in this daring sport, I will name some of the reasons as to why I lost interest in Cross country one year:
The heat. Cross country usually begins at the very beginning of summer, meaning that the runners have to stay hydrated from day one. When in competition, heat is the actual enemy to many, and the athletes have a hard time staying focused. The heat gives cross country runners an excuse as to why they did not do well in particular races when the truth of the matter is that nobody likes to race in extreme weather. In my opinion, it is much harder to stay cooler in hot weather because well- there’s only so much that you can take off before it is labeled as inappropriate. It is because of this that runners no longer consider cross country a top priority and willingly slack off.
Negativity. From a bad race to an impossible exercise, cross country runners can find anything to complain about pertaining to their sport. Performance is hindered for those who are dragged into hearing negative comments all the time, but honestly, who could blame them? I myself had several experiences with a teammate who could never see the bright side of a race she lost, and ironically, as soon as I had a bad race, I went to the same person and complained as she did! From that point on, all I could think about during every race was how miserable I would be afterwards if my competition won- which basically meant that I had accepted defeat.
A brief injury. When a runner gets hurt, the world might as well be over. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter whether the athlete can reach full recovery- his or her mentality has been destroyed. No more being super swift and mentally unstoppable during races, the runner must start from scratch after having to sit out for a few weeks or so. His or her ego is shattered and they have no drive to compete. Also, I hate to say it but most runners do not like the idea of working three times as hard to reach their previous all-time best. As an injured athlete, I no longer felt as though I could do this sport justice as I once had. When I was able to actually run again, I refused to try as hard as before in fear that I simply could no longer get a good 5k time.
No new competition. With the not-so-good athletes, there is always good competition. Runners with this status can do nothing but improve in place and in time. However, for the stellar athletes who are the top runners on their team, sometimes competition is scarce. It is because of this that runners no longer strive to do their best, or they insist on running the same speed that they are known for. I mean, even first place runners get bored sometimes.
Cross country can be a fun and entertaining sport to occupy a person’s life. It also opens up doors for scholarships and heavy recognition in the future as the athlete gets bigger and better. Of course, to keep the spark alive, one must have a positive and determined outlook to move forward with cross country, as well as every other sport he or she participates in. Don’t let that miserable athlete, an injury, lack of competition or the unchangeable weather circumstances get you down. Run! And have fun doing it.