Motivation behind running

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Lydia Sommer

The PV girl’s cross-country team having a meeting after their first meet of the season, at Iowa City.

Lydia Sommer, PV Only Editor

Running is unlike any other sport: runners must use every ounce of energy to perform well. Their ability does not depend on agility, like throwing a ball, catching or passing, but rather, on how undying their motivation is.

While many individuals view runningespecially cross countryas a sport requiring little preparation, it is both rigorous and demanding. The misconceptions about runners’ training causes a skewed perception of runners and what they do in their sport. 

For instance, soccer players focus on specific abilities; they practice passing the ball to one another, getting around other players and accurately shooting. Volleyball applies their skills to hit a ball over the net: they practice serving accurately, teamwork and communication skills. 

However, when it comes to cross country, runners simply run. Strength training, teamwork and flexibility are important parts of the sport, but it is primarily an athlete pushing themselves to run as fast as they humanly can.

A talented runner on the PV boys cross country team, senior Michael Chang, has his own ideas about how non-runners view the sport of cross-country. “I believe that other sports perceive cross country in negative ways,” he said. “I know that other sports think cross country is an easy sport, but they don’t know the type of work we do: a lot of miles.” 

Along with this, there are not many spectators from school that watch cross-country meets. Instead, it is typically only parents and other teams, which is not very motivating. The exhilaration that other sports teams feel at every game is only experienced at the state meet for cross country. 

So, how do runners find the motivation, grit and determination to continue running?

It seems that running is nearly all mental, and a tiny portion of it is physical. Thus, when a person compares themself to another (which is easy when it comes to cross country), loses focus or feels tired, they are stuck behind a mental barrier.

But one can achieve what the mind conceives and believes. The belief in oneself and trust in teammates leads to success. So, in breaking this said mental barrier, a runner can accomplish great goals.

One athlete who has done this is senior Jacob Mumey, one of the top runners in the state, “I keep motivation by knowing that there are guys on the team counting on me to help the team out a lot and they push me in practice and races. So why shouldn’t I push myself for them?” he stated. “I run because I know Ian can’t anymore.” Mumey’s progression throughout his four years only proves the dedication he has formed because of his undying love toward the team.

Thus, with so many doubts clouding a runner’s vision, it is often difficult to stay sharp and driven when one does not have a purpose for running. Without one, an individual may struggle to enjoy their training, and in return, they can’t reap the benefits. 

Like many athletes, Chang has also struggled with motivation, but his grit keeps him moving. “I keep motivation knowing that I’ll be important to my team,” he explained. “I can’t let laziness overpower the needs of my team when we’re in season.” Chang has proven his strength and dedication to the team over the past four years, representing what a true cross-country teammate should be.

As Chang explained, many runners keep their motivation by understanding their purpose; they are in cross-country to help their team do better, connect with others and enjoy and push the boundaries of their natural abilities. 

At the high school level, many runners do not cherish the fleeting moments of time spent with their team, nor do they understand the blessing of their capabilities. Instead, they take these things for granted.

Yet, once a runner finds and pursues their purpose in cross-country, they can finally achieve their goals.