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The student news site of Downers Grove South High School


The student news site of Downers Grove South High School


Athletes ‘get on the line’

William Yaeger
Liz Laverty getting assistance by DGS’s athletic trainer after finishing a race.

“Get on the line” is an athlete’s worst nightmare. But for cross country, it’s their entire sport. Cross country by far is the hardest sport an athlete can participate in.

Cross country is every other sports’ conditioning. The sport might not be sprinting, but it does entail running long distances fast for a long period of time.

I know what you’re thinking, I must be out of my mind thinking that cross country is the hardest sport.

Izzy Chlopek lays on the grass after running a race. (William Yaeger)

I mean, if it’s so easy, then go run six miles everyday. Just don’t do it at a 10-minute pace; do it at a seven or eight-minute pace, which would be considered the “normal” speed for those athletes.

The workout days, on the other hand, are way harder than a normal day. There are normally two workout days a week, plus of course a race day.

It could be a progression run, when they run three to six miles but get faster after a certain amount of time. The run feels like you’re running into your grave.

It could also be a tempo-pace run, when they run a little slower than their race-pace for a certain amount of miles, normally four. Basically an excuse for the coaches to see how their athletes will perform on race day.

Then there’s “repeats,” it could be two-mile repeats, one-mile repeats, 400 repeats or 800 repeats. The coach gives the runners a time, and they have to hit that time while they’re running that certain distance. The coach also gives them a break in between, like 30 seconds to three minutes, then they repeat two-13 times.

In conclusion, that workout just never ends.

Oh also I forgot, they have a mile warm-up run, or a 10-min run warm-up. Then they finish with a mile cool down run or a 10-min run cool down.

Kate Dziewinski lays in the ER after collapsing in the middle of her race because her heart rate reached 209. (Steve Dziewinski)

The sport overall puts so much pressure on your body. With heart rates reaching over 200 beats per minute, it could cause a heart attack. But also, cross country puts pressure on the athletes’ legs, feet, ankles, knees and mind.

Running is a mind game. While running a race, the athletes’ thoughts are fighting against their bodies. Their brains are telling them to stop, telling them that this is too hard, ultimately making the run unenjoyable for the athletes.

That is also very common throughout many other sports, but cross country can be considered as an on-your-own sport. The other teams, their teammates and their coaches don’t put any effect on how they perform. If they want to stop, they can stop, which makes the mental game even harder.

It’s all up for the athletes to just keep running.

So, if you want to say another sport is the hardest sport, just go back to the thought of “get on the line.”

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