By Karli Stichter
“We run this town!”
“Today I ran four miles,” says junior Jose Pedroza. To most people that sounds like a punishment, but for Cross Country runners that is what they call an “Easy day.” Cross Country is not a sport preferred by most, but believe it or not student athletes on this very campus simply enjoy running long distances. Most people believe cross country is “Just running” but there is more hard work, effort, and determination we do not see. Students endure rigorous training five to six days a week and through training they build endurance, stamina, and physical and mental strength.
The cross country season is underway for Tustin High School and high schools all across America. A cross country race is approximately 3.1 miles and the courses vary from flat, dusty roads to thick grass, and steep hills. For a majority of the summer, cross country athletes from Tustin High School prepared for their first few races. Waking up at seven in the morning to make it to a 7:30 workout takes determination and willpower. On average these athletes run distances of up to 25 miles a week including distance road runs through the city of Tustin as well as two-hundred to one thousand meter intervals around the track or at local parks. “In order to push through the difficult courses and tough practices you need to always have a positive mind,” says Jazlyn Madrid, a senior who has run for the past three years. Her teammates would agree that is the key to success.
While having a positive attitude is important when running, it is also important to set goals. Goals motivate runners every time they practice and race, which leads to major improvements in their times. Sophomore captain, Opal Chavez believes that a key aspect in improving time is to, “always run every practice and race knowing you will improve.” Positive attitudes and accessible goals can bring a runner far, but eventually they hit a point in the season where plateau sets in. At this point in the season the chances of runners improving is based on their level of mental strength. Mental strength is as important as physical strength. As the season goes on, the mental state of cross country runners strengthens, which allows them to be more successful in a race. It allows them to push themselves past their limits. Once they get past the plateau they begin to peak in their mentality and physicality. A runner’s peak often occurs towards the end of the season which is when they will hopefully achieve their best time. This takes a positive attitude and the determination to work hard towards goals every day.
Cross Country runners work hard every day as do other athletes, and they also strive for the feeling of success brought by finishing a hard practice or race. Just like any other sports team they are a family bonded by their love and passion for running cross country.