Saturday, November 9, 2013

What Cross Country (and running) has taught me

Today marks the end of a season, and the beginning of a new one, in my life.

Today cross country ends. There was no practice after school yesterday, and today is the last race.

I may get a bit sappy about all of this, but I truly believe that the last 3 months of cross country have changed me, and my perspective on running. It will always be one of the happiest memories that I have. Running was always something that I loved, but it has become a passion. And it's awesome.

Cross country has taught me.....

....that it's okay to take risks, cliche as it sounds, follow your heart.

I obsessed, and I mean obsessed, over the decision of whether I should join or not. Every time I ran, I pictured myself running a race. Whenever I finished, I imagined my (future) coach saying what an awesome run I had.

There were a lot of factors in my life leading me to convince myself that I couldn't - I gave up the dream at one point during that summer. But my biggest issue was fear, because let's face it, I like to control, and school sports was unknown territory for me. But why was I holding back from something I just knew and felt in my heart was right? When I finally made the leap, I loved it, and I was hooked.

.....that together is often better (and way more fun) than alone.

After running all by my lonesome through the entire summer, I didn't really like the idea of running in a group of people, especially since I wasn't fast. Would they judge me? Would I be able to keep up?

Naturally, after my first practice, all of these fears were pretty much dissolved. I actually met people who liked running as much as me. Up to that point, only through the blog world did I know other runners, I kid you not. I found a group of people who enjoyed what I enjoy - on easy runs we could talk and laugh, on hard days we could encourage (or complain to...) each other, and on race days we could cheer each other on. appreciate the little things.

Practice took up a lot of time and energy, so I quickly learned to enjoy the little things. Beautiful weather. Good temperatures. Long runs.Sleeping in an extra 30 minutes. Ice packs. Extra time.

....that hard workouts FEEL AMAZING.


Hehe...I have never trained for running before, this was new to me. I do not qualify my summer workouts as "hard" anymore, but at that time I didn't need them to be. I loved the feeling of pushing my muscles to the max, and knowing that I tried my best, even when it didn't feel that delightful in the moment. Fartleks, sprints, and hills, oh my!

....that long runs are my JAM

Seriously, what is better than meditating in the beauty of nature for an hour?

.....what my body can do for me (and that I need to take care of it!!). 

It seems like every day, I am learning and re-learning just how amazing the body is.  I definitely learned to appreciate my body more, and to pay even more attention to taking care of it, and fueling it properly! Our bodies truly are miracles, and I appreciate it so much freaking more.

.....patience, love, strength, all that jazz..

.....having the fastest time is not the most important part about being on the team.

To be clear: I was one of the slowest on my team. My season PR was 25:30 (are me and Emily twins or something...). But that really didn't bother me at all - everyone was still encouraging, and I still worked hard!

.....running is my passion.

Completely, totally, 100% my passion. Nothing makes me feel as amazing, free, and accomplished as running. There was a time in my life where I thought I'd never be able to again, yet here I am!!

Now that I've babbled and gushed, I guess I get to answer - what am I doing next?

Well, I took this entire week off, and let me tell you, it was much needed.

I didn't plan on having a plan (ha), but I need some structure to make sure that I keep up my endurance. You guys know I'm a pretty goal-oriented creature, so I'm going to be loosely following Hal Higdon's Winter Running Program - it's a combo of easy runs, long runs, tempo runs, and cross-training. It's something I can reasonably achieve, plus, it doesn't get too cold in Georgia, so I can run outside the majority of the winter.

I also got a membership to the gym. Who knows, one day it might be sleeting, or I might just be feelin' the elliptical.
I leave you with this quote.....I love running!

1 comment:

  1. Jessica I'm pretty sure we are twins. I related completely to this post. You had a wonderful season and you should be so proud of your accomplishments!! It's so hard to find the words to describe cross country but you did it beautifully. (: