You Know You're A Cross Country Runner

by Coach Tim Cary

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Woop! It's cross country season again!

Wait… what? 

Summer vacation is just getting started, right? But those preparing for the fall harrier season are in training mode. Victories in the chill of October come from the miles during the summer swelter. 

Cross country is THE sport for the high school distance runner. Sure, spring has track, but cross country is the only sport in which everyone is training for the same event. Because of that, cross country develops its own cult like idiosyncrasies. Those eccentricities make the cross country runner a unique individual.  

That’s why we say, “You know you're a Cross Country runner if…” 

You could retire if you earned a nickel every time someone asks you, "Why do you run so much?"

You name hills.

All your socks are stained from running through mud.

The phrase "moisture-wicking material" is a regular part of your vocabulary.

You finish each race looking like you were in a wrestling match.

You run further in a week than you travel to meets.

You have running withdrawal if you don't run everyday.

You wake up every morning sore and happy because of a great workout the day before.

Gatorade is your drug of choice.

Your Saturdays for the fall are already booked.

You enjoy running hills.

You can add up miles and meters in your head, but for any other kind of math you need a calculator.

Cross CountryYour favorite food group is carbohydrates.

Your room smells like sweat, dirt, and Icy-Hot.

You don't know what "off-season" means.

You cringe at the term “shin splints.”

You know exactly what a difference 0.1 miles can make.

You find yourself saying, "That's not a hill..."

You know Monday equals intervals.

Watching the Boston Marathon on television made you get up and go for a run.

Your calves are bigger than your biceps.

You’re comfortable wearing 3” split shorts in public.

You are always hungry.

You know that "All you can eat" is a challenge.

You run through puddles, not around them.

You know several different ways to tie a shoelace.

You would give up homecoming to go to the state meet.

You're a snot rocket pro.

You have run 6 miles while singing the entire way.

Your teammates are like family.

You have more inside jokes than a comic does.

You go through cases of water and Gatorade in a week.

Your mom makes you leave your spikes outside because they smell like death.

You know cross country is a contact sport and have elbow-shaped bruises and spike marks to prove it.

You don't laugh every time you hear the word "fartlek."

You run the mile in gym class at an easy pace, and you still beat everyone else.

You get fired up for pasta… for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

You talk to your coaches more than you talk to your parents.

You know what sweat taste like.

You need to pee every 15 minutes.

You dream about running.

Your toughest opponent and your best friend are the same person.

You size up every hill, track, path, lane, road, field, and anything else that may get marked on a map for its training potential.

Every time you see a beautiful place you think ,"This would be an awesome place to run" and then you go get your shoes.

It's always a beautiful day for running.

You find yourself looking at people you don't know in public because you're almost positive they're runners, too.

You've started a conversation with someone just because he or she is wearing a t-shirt from a race.

You have scars on your shins from being spiked.

Your biggest pet peeve is being pushed through the chute after you cross the finish line.

You can set up a tent in 2 minutes flat.

You live off the term "anaerobic threshold."

Your pre-race ritual includes a porta-potty stop.

You enjoy running during storms (rain, thunder, snow, or ice).

You have epic tan lines.

You know all the locations of road kill carcasses near your school.

You can tell how old your shoes are by how many miles are on them.

You know every store nearby that has drinking fountains and bathrooms.

You drink more water in a day than most people do in a week (or more).

You've found yourself jumping into random ponds, sprinklers, and kiddie pools on more than one occasion.

In every race, you strive to reach the point of "just about to puke," and if you're don't get there, you're mad at yourself after the race is over.

The owner of the local Italian restaurant knows your team by name and gives you discounts.

Every possible running route around your school has a name that only your team understands.

You've forgotten what carbonated beverages taste like.

You took the time to read all of these.

Reading this list made you go out for a run. 

If you're a middle or high school runner and you found yourself nodding and smiling as you read through this list, then the Fleet Feet XC Camp is just for you. What better way to enjoy the summer than meeting new runners with the same goals and quirky running personality as you? Now is the time to lay the foundation for a stellar cross country season. Let us help you enjoy a fantastic fall and find new things to add to the list. 

Good Luck and Happy Racing!
Coach Cary


Tim CaryTim Cary is FLEET FEET's Assistant Training Manager, coach of the FLEET FEET-sponsored Runnababez Elite team, and manager of the FLEET FEET Racing Team.  Over his 20 years of coaching, Tim has coached athletes to three national team championships, five national individual championships, two national records, and numerous All-American and All-State honors.  Click here to receive Tim's weekly article via email.

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