Cross country runners work on and off season
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They run up to six miles every day. They watch what they eat and keep their bodies healthy no matter the season. These athletes have aching muscles, seemingly nonexistent energy, and stomach sickness. They grow accustomed to unwavering heat, struggling to catch their breath, feeling sticky sweat run down their faces, and fighting off fatigue. Such obstacles are necessary for them to achieve success. This is the life of many cross country runners.
Cross country is a group effort, as well as an individual one. When runners keep their bodies healthy, they are helping their team succeed as well as themselves.
“It’s very rewarding and cool to have a team depend on you and push your physical abilities,” said senior Taylor Cruzado.
An individual’s healthy habits can improve a team’s record. Cruzado said that diet and practice truly do help a runner succeed because it makes the sport more enjoyable and increases athleticism.
“When I first started running, I could barely run a mile without stopping. Now, I can run half marathons without stopping,” said sophomore Alec Whitener.
Most people could not run a 5k without any training. It takes practice, a good diet, and hard work to accomplish that goal.While many sports can have long off-seasons, a runner’s break is very short. They take two to three week breaks between seasons, and then they go right back to work. They must train extra hard to keep their bodies healthy and strong year-round.
“My practice has made me much stronger and skinnier than I had previously been. Practice makes your body become more healthy,” said Whitener.
Practice pays off. The more an athlete practices, the better they will feel, and the higher their chance at success. Whitener said that eating healthy helps his body function better. While healthy eating does not always seem fun, it is one of the most important aspects of an athlete’s improvement.
“I like to eat pasta, fruits, vegetables, and foods with lots of protein and iron in them,” said Cruzado.
Water is also very important for runners. Cruzado said that water helps give bodies energy to succeed in the race, which is extremely important. According Mayo Clinic, dehydration can cause cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke.
Every day, cross country runners have practice, either have a road run (running 6-8 miles around Festus), or workouts. These workouts consist of mile repeats, minute drills, and laps around West City Park. While running, they have to keep their minds focused and positive to truly succeed.
“At the beginning, I was pretty mentally weak, but I’ve learned that mental toughness is essential to this sport,” said Cruzado.
While keeping their bodies physically healthy year-round is extremely important to cross country runners, their mental health is important too. If they never encourage themselves, they will have the mindset to fail.
“My coach and my friends who help me push myself farther than I ever thought I could be pushed [helped me get to where I am now],” said Cruzado.