The Benefits of Cross Country
A 5k is about 164,000 feet, or 3.1 miles. That mileage, or more, tends to be what the girls and boys run on the Caledonia cross country teams everyday. As of August, both teams began meeting in the morning at 8 am to get a workout in. Starting off with time trials, easy runs, and intervals, the first month is typically more relaxed. After that, the mileage may increase to an 8 mile run or two runs in one day in the blazing 90 degree weather. Although that may sound challenging for some, many students come out and do cross country with little to no experience in running.
This is beneficial because running is a lifelong sport and anyone is able to do it because it takes little skill, besides having endurance and drive. This is easy to accomplish with practice. On the cross country team, the biggest competitor is you and improving on your own times. Many runners throughout the season strive to break their personal record, the fastest time that they have completed a 5k in. Despite cross country being viewed as a team sport, many students do it for themselves and for the experience.
Amaya Lucas (Junior) stated, “I decided to join the cross country team when I was a freshman. I joined because I was new to the school and I wanted to meet new people and maybe make some new friends. Cross country is nice because I did end up making friends and I also get to be more active than I would normally be.”
Another benefit people tend to enjoy from Caledonia’s cross country program is the friendly environment and family-like teams.
Benjamin DeGood (Senior) said, “The boys team is a lot of fun. It is pretty competitive and we all just push each other and take the sport seriously. We also have plenty of time to mess around and it is also fun when we have team dinners and big meets.”
Many athletes on the team agree that the team dinners are something they look forward to. The boys team holds their team dinners at the house of one of their teammates.
“It’s nice having them at people’s houses because then we can play games,” Donavan Mattson (Senior) explained.
On the other hand, the girls team has them right after school in the cafeteria. Coach Howell’s reasoning for holding them in the school cafeteria is so everyone can attend instead of trying to find a ride or being too busy.
The team aspect of the sport is also added to the list of benefits and ties in with bonding. Although runners want to improve their times in order to break their own personal records, this as a result helps improve the team altogether. When one person gets a little faster, it pushes the person in front of them to improve, and so on.
In cross country, it is scored by the top five runners in the race. The team involvement is shown when Cross Country members run near one another, to push each other and pack together. The athletes are able to be competitive with each other because of the bond that’s created through the season.
Natalia Quigley (Junior) explained how the girls cross country team is a fun environment by sharing that, “I love being on the cross country team because our team gets along really well. During the summer we would play games and get food after our morning practices. I also really enjoy auxing on the bus when we are on the way home from cross country meets. We have all bonded so well together, and it helps us hold each other accountable.”
Another thing the girls enjoy about their team is how they do secret sisters. In the beginning of the season, each girl on the team receives one of their teammates as their secret sister. On the day of a meet, all the girls receive a letter and gift from their secret sister. The letter usually encourages them or congratulates them for achievements in past meets. The gift is usually a snack that the girl enjoys. The secret sister does not know who has them until the last meet when they are allowed to reveal themselves.
Sela Fitzel (Sophomore) said, “I love secret sisters because it is fun to make stuff for your sister but I also really like to get food from my own secret sister.”
Lastly, being on the cross country team is beneficial for the physical health of students, as well as their mental health. Running is a good way to help improve cardiovascular health, which relates to the heart and blood vessels. Running can also help manage symptoms of depression and other common mental illnesses.
Cooper Sorsen (Senior) states, “Running is something I enjoy and I hope I can do it in college. I’m always happy when I run, unless I am injured.”
All in all, students in Caledonia’s Cross Country team continue to create personal experiences, balance competitiveness with team bonding, and improve their overall health and well-being.