Long Distance Running

Your legs are tired and your lungs burn. Your whole body is telling you to quit, to just walk for a bit and relax. But you look behind you and see another runner gaining on you. So you don't stop. You speed up.

Cross-Country: This scene will play itself out all over the country this fall, as strong runners from coast to coast compete for high school and college cross-country teams. It is one of the most demanding sports around. Athletes have to run hard for long distances, usually three or four miles. In just about every race, competitors get extremely tired and want to stop. It takes a tremendous amount of determination and the desire to finish a race to keep going. For many cross-country runners, winning and losing doesn't matter. It's about a personal challenge to reach the finish line and accomplish a goal.

Teamwork: Even though teammates don't pass each other a ball or block for each other, cross-country is still very much a team sport. Cross-country teams practice together, running hard every day of the week. During meets, two or three teammates often stick together. If one gets tired, the other will motivate them to keep going.

Determination: More than any other sport, cross-country is about staying determined to do your best. It is a great way to build character and prove to yourself that you can accomplish something very difficult. You don't have to be the fastest runner to be a good cross-country athlete. If you stay determined and never give up, you will be a successful runner.

Courses: One of the great things about cross-country running is that no two courses are the same. Depending on where you live, some courses are very hilly, some are flat. Some go along the water or through fields, while others wind up mountains or through the woods. Each course will offer its own set of challenges. Before a meet, runners will often walk the course to get a feel for it. That way, they know to conserve energy for hidden hills or know that they can run faster when the wind is at their back.

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