By Nadia Rivas

      As a cross-country runner, I can’t count how many times I’ve heard, “All you do is run.” It’s hard not to roll my eyes at such a statement.  While this is partly true, cross-country doesn’t get the credit it deserves. Even though there are more than 440,000 cross-country (XC) runners in the USA, not everyone is familiar with the sport. XC starts in early June, with some runners averaging 500-800 miles throughout their summer training. It involves race distances of varying lengths that take the runners through hills and different types of terrain. Starting lines are small outlined boxes squeezing in 40 or more runners. If it’s an invitational, the top three runners start in front, and the remaining four go in the back. When the gun goes off it’s chaos for the first 100/200 meters. People are elbowing each other and trying to get in front of one another. Imagine a school when the lunch bell rings. Many people will sprint to get in front, but it’s important to know your limits before chasing them down. Sometimes it’s better to leave some gas in the tank for the finish. It is very important though to pace yourself each mile so you’re able to go a bit faster until the end, when you fully sprint to the finish line. Depending on the place you get, it can set your team up for victory. After the race, although your legs may feel like jelly, a cool-down run is important. Your legs need to wind down from the high-intensity race. It will help with soreness the next day, post-race. Cross country might seem like an easy sport, but once you commit and dedicate your time to it, that opinion is quickly changed. 

If you’re interested or know anyone who might be, XC is a fun sport that requires motivation and dedication that will have you smiling through the pain.