Why Do We Run Cross Country?


Rebecca Tao, Writer

Many people would rather not pound through hard workouts six days a week, but for AHS’ cross country team, the members look forward to waking up at the crack of dawn to complete their daily runs. It is this vitality and drive that flows through the team. The members’ energy is prevalent and shown in their spirit and love for the team—even when they’re sweating buckets under 100 degree heat. So what exactly is cross country, and why do so many people run it?

Unlike track and field, cross country is long distance running, and races are usually three-miles or 5k. Not only do participants have to complete the full distance, but they also have to run their fastest and outrun every person in front of them. This makes cross country a physically and mentally challenging sport. Running at your hardest for roughly 20 to 25 minutes is not the easiest thing to do, so practice and consistent effort is required to be in the top shape. Furthermore, while the track is flat and cushioned with rubber, cross country running includes a variety of terrains like grass, concrete, soil, and elements like hills and tree roots that further challenge your mental and physical stamina. This may all sound like your worst nightmare, but the members of cross country beg to differ.

When interviewing several members of the team about why they chose to join and what running cross country has taught them, many of them cited mental and physical health benefits. Freshman Alex Fang replied, “I really enjoy running. It’s meditative and gets your mind off of things, and it is my form of stress relief. After running, I feel so accomplished—especially when I complete a certain distance.”

Other runners took a more practical approach of why they chose to run. Freshman Ella Sung described how “cross country has made [her] healthier and more fit.” Moving forward, freshman Joy Huang explained how she has “learned what’s it like to be in a team and the importance of responsibility and always being on top of your stuff. Results don’t come overnight. Running is just as much of a priority as other school work. If you start slacking off, the results come back to hurt you.”

Meanwhile, sophomore Anica Maninang answered honestly and humorously as she admitted to having “started running because [she] did cross country in middle school and really enjoyed it. But in all honesty, [she] joined cross so [she could] escape safely in a zombie apocalypse.” Coach Chris Lee, an alumnus of AHS, also contributed, “In high school, I did cross and it’s given me a lot and I want to give back to the same program. And it’s fun.”

In a little over a month, the cross country season will come to an end and the members will have to woefully retire until the next year. Being in cross country myself has taught me countless sport-related and academic lessons. Running long distances has taught me about perseverance and self-discipline. Running races has taught me about the importance of time and how crucial one second can be. Sweating, crying, and bleeding with the team has taught me about creating permanent bonds. In fact, my most memorable moments of high school can be attributed to cross country, and the sport has boosted my happiness and confidence. Cross country taught me to be thankful for my suffering and pain as there are people who are not able to experience the same. I learned to be grateful to be able-bodied and to utilize my potential.

Every mile that the team has run together contributed more stitches to their close-knit bond. As the end of the season approaches, the cross country team is set on finishing strong and giving it their all—down to the very last meter.

Photo by REV DILLS