By Madilyn Zanardelli
Some of you reading this are runners and understand the strategy I’m going to lay out; this may apply very well to you. Some of you have never run before, and to you I say try it. I first joined cross country my freshman year and loved it. You may feel the same. You may not. To those of you who hate running; no worries, running isn’t for everyone, but the tips and methods applied to this analogy can still help.
Lap 1: Freshman year
The first one goes by fast. Everyone starts on the same point as you run through the first turn. By the end of the second turn (200m) you get a feel for the competition. Freshman year is the time to try new activities, meet new people, and understand how highschool works. My main piece of advice to incoming freshmen is to enjoy your year by exploring new interests. You never know what you’ll enjoy till you try.
Lap 2: Sophomore year
The next lap gets a bit harder and you might go a bit slower. But just keep a strong pace and know you’re almost halfway done. To the sophomores, learn to recognize your free time and enjoy it. When you get a moment, take a deep breath and appreciate how much you’ve done so far. Then reflect. What worked over the last two years? What didn’t?
Lap 3: Junior year
This third stage is notoriously difficult for both runners and highschoolers. You have to maintain your pace as you start to feel your legs tire and your core burn. Your future—whether it’s your mile time or your aspirations—becomes more important, causing your actions to carry more weight. This may seem daunting, but you need to relax. Hold your pace; no, it’s not easy but nothing satisfactory in life is easy. Satisfaction grows from hard work and perseverance. Remember to breathe and be comfortable with hard work; in the end it will pay off.
Lap 4: Senior year
The final lap. You’ve made it this far. Leave everything on the track. Though the workload may lighten, the events and experiences rush by as you realize your time in highschool is coming to an end. This is the final sprint. It’s less of a hard work sprint and more so a memory sprint. Trying to fit it all in before the end of the year.
In the blink of an eye, my last race, soccer game, and journalism meeting rush by. And I’m left at the end of May realizing I have to leave the friends I’ve made, the teams I’ve bonded with, and the teachers and coaches who have seen me grow from my lowest to highest points through hard work and their support. Now, in just a few months I have to start the process all over again. Run my first lap to set up the next three, push through my second and third year while maintaining my pace, and then finally—the all out lap— picking up speed as I reach the finish line. But I know that everything I learned in highschool (academic or mental) has prepared me for life. I am no longer afraid or nervous to stand on the starting line: I’m ready to race.