Five Tips for Cross Country Athletes:
1) Love the Process - The high school cross country season is at least three months long. That's an awfully long time to focus on the State Meet. It's fine to set goals before the season begins but once things get going your focus should be one day at a time. Learn to love the easy runs, the drills, the strides, the weights, etc....the season will go much quicker that way and you'll be faster because of it!
2) Another Day at the Office - Speaking of the State Meet. Don't put it on a pedestal! It's still just 5k. There are no secret meals, fancy warm-up routines or lucky charms that will make you better prepared for that race than any other. If you're doing what you're supposed to each and every day and at each and every meet during the season than the State Meet should feel nice and normal (okay- with maybe a little more excitement!)
3) Add to your Tradition - Your team is about so much more than you. It's about your teammates, it's about those that came before you and those that will come after you. You are just a piece of that larger tradition and you have four years to make your mark. Think about that and let it sink in. How do you want you and your teammates to add to that tradition? Are you making those that came before you proud? And what sort of legacy are you leaving for those that are coming down the pike? Leave your program better than you found it!
4) Everyone is a Leader - There is no rule that only the fastest runners on the team, or the seniors, or the captains have to be the leaders. Absolutely anyone on the team can be a leader in his or her own way. Some lead by example. Some are the social leaders. Some are the best cheerleaders on race day and the list goes on. The only real rule is that a leader has to be a positive influence. If you bring positivity to practice every single day then you are on your way to being a team leader.
5) Say YES! - One of my former coaches, Greg McMillan, always says that a race is simply a series of decisions. Should I sprint around this turn? Should I hammer this pop-up hill? Should I go with this kid from my rival school? Should I kick? If you go into the race with the mindset that you are always going to answer "YES" every time one of these little questions enters your brain then you are putting yourself in position to have a great race overall.