Cross Country: A sport with no off-season


Brandon R. Lyle

Runners, ready, go! Cross country runners start to kickoff their season by beginning scheduled practices at Logan Elementary. This picture offers a somewhat glimpse into what the courses look like for this sport.

There are many different sports that have an offseason. Football, basketball, soccer, or baseball for example all have an off-season, but there’s no such thing as an off season for cross country athletes. This sport requires athletes to run almost every day in order to not lose their progress. 


Running is not particularly a team sport per say; it’s all about mental toughness. Athletes have to practice by themselves all year round; they cannot slack off because it will not benefit them come competition season. Running athletes have to build off every opportunity they receive. Every practice, competition and jog counts towards getting better. 


Unlike baseball or soccer, cross country can be a very grueling sport. Coaches require runners to participate in fast pace workout repeats that feel like a never ending cycle. In order to obtain the level of athletic ability the coaches want runners to achieve, it’s necessary that athletes take part. When cross country runners practice, they usually go on a four to six mile road run every day once they proceed through the season. This takes a great amount of discipline and mental toughness to complete.


Football or soccer have a certain amount of people on the field to accomplish a goal. Cross country runners have to place in competitions all by themselves; it’s not a team sport at all except for athletes supporting each other. Athletes have to make sure that they are at the top of their game in order to beat their opponents. Cross country runners do run with others during practices, but during competitions, it all depends on individual times in order to win. 


I competed in the cross country season of 2020-2021 and had to run through the winter by myself. It was very difficult some days because of how cold it was and wearing several layers of clothing made it laborious to run. The more layers of clothing runners have on their legs, the harder it will be for them to move their legs.


After winter, I started track and field to get back into shape for cross country in the summer again and it was very difficult to transition back into running every day. I had only been running twice a week at the most if the weather was cooperating. It was either raining or snowing and it was freezing outside either way. It was hard to move my legs because the colder it was outside the more my body muscles tightened and did not want to move.


The race courses for cross country are very lengthy. The high school races are over three miles long and the middle school races are about two miles long. However, runners get to see a lot more when they run races for cross country: they get to run through the woods and fields. There’s so much more to see than if they were just running on a track. Cross country’s not for everyone. When I participated, several kids dropped out only after a few weeks. 


If anyone ever participates in cross country they need to make sure they do not slack off  because every run allows an opportunity for improvement!