If you were to tell my six-grade self, or even myself this time last year that by freshman year, I would be running cross country and track, I am 100% sure she wouldn’t have believed you. I’m not saying that I’ve become some sort of track star during the three year span since elementary school, but going from struggling with 1 mile to being able to confidently race 5ks signifies a pretty major change in my life.
I would say that my short-lived attempt at a running career prior to joining the cross country team started in the fall of 8th grade, deep into quarantine. I know that the quarantine exercise phase is a shared experience between most girls my age, but after the spring 2020 Chloe Ting and Youtube workouts, I found myself searching for a way to get out of my desk chair and bed by any means necessary. For me, the answer was daily 1-2 mile jog/walks in my neighborhood.
For a while, those short and extremely slow jogs were exactly what I needed to attempt to clear my head and rip my eyes away from a screen for any amount of time. These runs helped my mental health in the depths of winter 2020 and gave me a small sense of accomplishment that felt so hard to come by. This phase culminated in a few three mile runs before I promptly stopped running with no ambition to get any faster or try any longer distance.
After that, I pretty much abandoned running as a whole until the summer before ninth grade where I was encouraged by my friend who had been a long time cross country runner to join the team. I’m not going to lie, my well deserved rejection from the tennis team also had a large part in this decision. I distinctly remember my first practice just a few days before the first day of school and being pleasantly surprised that 4 more of my closest friends had decided to run as well. Starting off with zero friends in any grade older than mine, I didn’t know what to expect when it came to the team dynamic.
I think it’s fair to say that my first one mile loop around the school was life changing. Well-if you put aside the fact that I turned bright red and spent most of my time desperately gasping for air-it truly was. Although training was a new level of difficulty for me, the support of my team mates and our amazing coach turned running into seemingly never ending torture into something that I could enjoy. I’m not going to pretend I enjoyed the heat or the shin splints or the level of discomfort I never knew I could reach while running meets, but I did gain a skill and a team that I know I will take with me through the rest of my high school experience and life. All in all, I think I owe this new found fondness to the support of our wonderful coach and daily Larchmont trips. If I could do it, I think anyone could.