Why I Run for a Team

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Clare Hardiman It is a common misconception that cross country is just people running to beat each other. No matter how much it can be argued, whether cross country is actually a harsh, competitive, individualistic sport or a welcoming team sport where runners push each other to be better, I will always be biased towards team. At Latin, we run together and support each other day in and day out, and being a freshman, a positive and motivated tight-knit team is exactly what I needed to feel comfortable in a new environment. Latin’s 2016’s cross country season is actually one of the biggest teams in recent history with a combined total of fifty girls and boys. Compared with other sports, fifty’s pretty small, but having that many teammates – people to run with and people to become friends with – is actually hugely beneficial, at least for me. The camaraderie is one of the best aspects of being on cross country, especially as a freshman navigating my way around the school and interacting with new people. The multi-grade level bonding is something that we cannot experience as much in the classrooms at Latin as we can on the pavement. The upperclassmen take all the freshman under their wing and always ask us how we’re doing, how our race went, or even how our day went. The team’s positivity and support makes me look forward to cross country practice after a hard, long day at school, not just to run but to spark a conversation with a person I don’t normally talk to. Ultimately, I know when I am exhausted during practice, every other runner is in the same boat and we will all make it through together. I love when someone asks me after practice: “So how long did you guys run today?” and my normal reply (“five miles”) is returned with goggling eyes and a dropped mouth. I ran five solid, painful miles to become stronger, but to other people, five miles sounds like a death sentence. If people say anything at all in response, they gasp: “Five miles? I can’t even run one! How do you do it?” And honestly, my one and only race strategy is thinking about nothing and keeping a positive attitude; I call it mental toughness. It is so hard for every athlete to keep a positive mindset, and after being on the team for only a week, I realized it really was the key to success. And yes, there are certainly many painful practices like Indian runs or hill sprints where I want to throw up or quit at the end, but the inclusive running environment at Latin is so inspirational and positive that I wouldn’t dream of giving it up. ]]>