Cross Country: Enjoyable or Addictive?


Gabby Hanson, Co-Editor

When asked about sports or what I like to do in my free time, my response is, “Well, I run cross country.” The looks are oftentimes puzzling: “Why would you want to do that?” or “You’re crazy” are all very common responses. 

Cross Country goes beyond the physical aspects; there is so much more that factors into running than you can imagine until you try it yourself. Not only are the physical requirements more than most sports, but the emotional and mental aspects are very demanding. To most, myself included, it seems it would be an easy, enjoyable way of spending time…until you are waking up at 5am on a summer morning to drive to your local recreation center to run four miles…for fun. Trying to run 40 minutes straight as a warmup without any previous training with no distractions, just you and your mind, seems like a marathon. Having no endurance or resilience to the pain, the pessimistic thoughts of  “You can’t do it”  or ‘You need to stop and walk” fill your brain, overcrowding your head and drown your thoughts with negative lies. Running cross country has taught me that I am the only thing holding myself back.

I personally never liked running and never thought about running before I spontaneously decided to run cross country. I wasn’t a gym head who went to the gym every morning at 4am, didn’t play any sports other than softball and I was never the one to get the most reps on the pacer test or get the fastest mile time in P.E. class. That being said, anyone can run, but running isn’t necessarily for everyone.

At first, cross country was an addition to put on my college application, something to do and a way to make new friends. However, in the short time I have run XC, it has changed my life and become so much more than running to me. Not only has it given me something to do and add on my college application, but I have developed relationships with people that I otherwise may have never talked or come in contact with that I now consider some of my closest friends. I have also developed a new resilient mindset, consistently pushing myself and turning off the negative thoughts in my head, and to my surprise, grown my faith immensely. 

Despite all of the positive aspects I have experienced since I started running, I still don’t jump at the chance when someone says, “Let’s go for a run!” With running comes a lot of dedication, pain, mental battles, and muscles being pushed to their limit. All of that, just for fun? There has to be another reason why people choose to run…”The Runner’s High.”

The Runner’s High is “a exercise-induced, short term state of euphoria,” when the body is pushed to its limit and begins to release chemicals that act as a natural pain killer allowing you to run faster and longer.

Running experts from Rockay stated, “Exercises such as running, cycling, swimming and other intense cardiovascular activities cause an endorphin rush. That rush people get creates a response in the brain similar to the one drug addicts get when using illegal substances,” Experts also stated that the feeling expressed when experiencing the Runner’s High is similar to a Morphine drip, but natural and safer.

I asked some of my  teammates why they cho0se to run cross country and what keeps them motivated; the responses weren’t all that surprising;

Bryson McMullen, a junior, commented, “The running is never actually fun; it hurts most of the time, but the people and the progress make it worth it.”

Senior McKenzie Merritt, added, “All the memories and friends you make through the team. There isn’t a day I leave practice without laughing.”

Grace Hains, a junior, stated, “Being around people who want to push you to be better is the most rewarding thing. The friendships built have been incredible and ones that will last a lifetime.”

All in all, running is a difficult sport; it can deceive you into thinking it’s a piece of cake; however, any runner will tell you it is no easy task but it is all worth it in the end.