Fellowship Friday: A Day in the Life of a High School Cross Country Athlete

Every once in awhile we will have a Fellowship Friday with a guest posting from other bloggers or friends. Today I’m happy to introduce to you Leila!
Hi!  My name is Leila, and I am a high school sophomore cross country athlete. I live in beautiful, sunny California, although sometimes it may be a bit too sunny.
So what is cross country? No, it is not running across the country. *:) happy It is, yes, running all day every day, and ultimately training for our 5k races, that are like other teams’ games. (Quick fact- a 5k= 3 miles! Just to give you an idea of how long our races are.)
My high school team is combined with boys and girls together at practice, however, we race separately. (Imagine a girl trying to keep up with a boy for 3 miles! But who says girls can’t do anything guys can do, right?) Our practice runs from 2-4:30pm, Monday-Friday.

Our Typical Practice:

First, we start out with a “warm-up” lap, to get our blood flowing and body pumped, of one mile. Then, we begin our stretches, complete with lunges (and yes, everybody’s favorite) -squats. Next, the part that you’ve all been waiting for…drumroll please…our coach sends us out on our run! *:) happy Haha. We do not run inside our school’s track and field, it is simply too boring and repetitive running around in circles. 🙂 So we run on trails, hills, parks, and quiet residential streets near our school’s neighborhood.
Typically, our girl’s varsity team (basically the faster girl runners) goes on a run of about 5-6 miles a day. Our girls junior varsity team runs about 3-4 miles a day. I am proud to announce I get to run with varsity!! However, on the boys side, the varsity team runs 9-10 miles A DAY. UH-HUH. YOU HEARD RIGHT. I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE ALL THINKING, OUR COACH MUST BE CRAZY!! Although sometimes it may seem like a lot, all of this training builds us up for our much shorter mileage race, of only 3 miles.
When we get back from our run, tired, weary, and yes, sweaty, we usually have a 6 minute workout. What this workout is is basically running sprints back and forth on the track for 6 minutes, 1 min at a time, as fast as you can. And I’ll have you know, YES, it’s exhausting after running 5 miles in the heat. (I warned you that California can be too sunny *:) happy) Then, we do a “cool-down” to slow our heart rates, of 1 mile. After that, we stretch again so our muscles don’t get sore, and lastly we have what my team likes to call “killer sets”.  🙂 Basically these sets consist of 100 pushups and 100 crunches. Yes, you can breathe again now, that’s it for the day folks! Have a good one and I’ll be back later.
Yeah, right. There’s a lot more to cross country than just running, folks. We also have to be eating healthy and  stay hydrated, because running so much can really suck the nutrients out of you if you’re not careful to replace them properly.
Because a mile burns about 100 calories, my team and I typically burn about 700 calories a day. (not to mention the boys team, which goes over 1,000 calories). So it’s important to replenish your body, but with the right stuff, not junk food. Yes, fine, okay I’ll admit it- the girls and I often fail to abstain from chips, sweets, and chocolate. However, it’s okay to eat junk food, only in moderation. Lots of carbs, such as bread, pasta, cereal, and protein such as eggs, meat, and beans are needed to give you the proper nutrition. And yes, everyone’s favorites, fruits and LOTS of vegetables are needed for vitamins in the body.
My coach claims that a typical runner, especially when it’s sunny needs to be drinking a GALLON of water a day, which is about 8 bottles of water. I try my best, but I usually average about 6 bottles.  It’s important to hydrate 3-4 days BEFORE  a race day, because not drinking enough water before running 3 miles at your fastest can impede your score, and also cause you to faint, heatstroke, etc.
However, there are many benefits to joining a cross country team!!!
1.) You obviously become a better runner! I remember before I joined my average mile time was about 7:45, and now my record is 6:08! 🙂
2.) You stay physically fit! (burning all those calories sure pays off!)
3.) You have a new family. Joining a team can create new friendships and bonds, and your teammates will always be there for you to support you during practice, a race, or even just a regular day.
4.) You feel good about yourself!! Although running so much is physically draining, everyday when I step into my dad’s car to go home after practice, I can hear a little voice inside my head saying, ” Good job, Leila. You gave it your all. You tried your best. Now let God do the rest. “
Also, I have learned a very important lesson from my experience with my cross country team: “Never give up” and “Just do it”. Yes, I may be quoting Nike, but they really do have something here. No matter how hot it is or how tired you are, just do it. You will feel so good in the end that you pushed yourself a bit further, ran that extra mile, lifted that heavier weight, and won that medal. And most importantly, never give up. God is always with you.
I hope you enjoyed reading this, and that I didn’t bore you!
-Leila *:) happy

Isaiah 40:31
” But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

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