More than just a race

A runner reflects on the lessons on and off the course

Freshman cross country members take a break on a ski lift in Taos while on their way to the top of the mountain. Once at the top, the team went on a hike.

Madeline Sanders

Freshman cross country members take a break on a ski lift in Taos while on their way to the top of the mountain. Once at the top, the team went on a hike.

Madeline Sanders, Staff Reporter

Running hurts.

It hurts your sides, it hurts your legs, it hurts your muscles. Everyone thinks you’re insane. You get strange looks by people driving by, and if you’re really lucky, the driver will be extra pleasant and honk and yell at you. So, why would anyone want to run?

Maybe it is the way you feel afterwards. Maybe it’s the feeling you get when the weather is perfect, or maybe it’s the feeling of crossing the finish line, knowing you’ve accomplished something not many other people can do.

I’ve run cross-country since the seventh grade, and although I may only be a freshman, the bond I have with my teammates is already incredibly strong. Due to that close bond, it is often referred to as a “cult,” and it is just that.

Every summer, the team goes up to Taos, NM for a week of running, but more importantly, team bonding. We go into town, go hiking, go white water rafting, and much more.

When we were white water rafting down the Rio Grande, our boat hit the biggest rapid of the trip and flipped, and consequently all six of us runners and our guide were sucked down the river. None of us got seriously injured, though, and it was an experience that brought us all together, even if it may have been the scariest moment of our lives.

When the runners bond, we are closer with each other and are able to push each other past the limits we thought were there. For example, if we are running a banger (a difficult progression workout where you increase your speed every five minutes for 25-35 minutes), we can push one another not only go further, but to go faster as well. The faster we train, the faster we race.   

The aspect of pushing yourself relates to more than just running and cross country. When you push yourself in a physical activity such as running, you become more amenable to the idea, and you realize you can do it.

This relates back to everyday life. I am now able push myself to finish my homework and all of my chores, and I can also push myself to be a better person, even though it can be extremely hard at times. It may just be letting someone borrow a pencil in class, or it may be talking to someone who is upset for hours trying to make them feel better. Either way, I push myself to be the best person I know I can be.

One of the best things about running is the adventure; you can run anywhere could possibly want to explore. You are not confined to a gym or field, you don’t need special equipment, and you can go whenever and wherever you please; the ends of the Earth are your limit, literally across the country. If you want to go and run to the lake, you can, but if you just want to run to the mailbox, you can. There are few limitations.

That is why I run. It is different for everyone. But for me, it’s being a part of  something bigger than myself with something that I love. Yes, it is painful. Yes, people think I am insane, but it is worth it in the long run.