Winter season grind begins

It’s winter: a cool breeze slaps their faces as they bounce off the hard concrete of the street, because the sidewalks and grass are blanketed in snow. Red and black drapes all over them; a red headband with a breathable red shirt, slick black pants, and skin-tight socks going into mud-covered, terrain-ravished running shoes. They all run as a group; they’re a pack of wolves, covering land by the second and making distance. They don’t slow down, because they don’t want to be left behind; they all are constantly competing with each other. They are the Cross Country team.

The Cross Country team just recently finished their season in November, and are looking at a relaxing break. However, around half opt to participate in Winter running, where they run around Hinsdale in these few weeks until track season starts. Many are looking to fill the time by preparing for track or simply staying in shape during the offseason, and it wouldn’t be possible without multiple people being involved.

Winter season routine has its differences from the regular season. The runners run in mainly the same, memorized routes; however they run on mainly concrete and not grass or track fields. They focus on light distance runs, running multiple miles for a longer period of time, rather than intensely running for speed or as fast as one can. Runs typically go to up to eight to twelve miles daily.

While it may seem that Cross Country doesn’t have much to do with being a team, rather self-persistence and being able to make yourself run and compete against everyone else, that’s only partially true: Cross Country is very much a team sport.

“Cross Country and track are both team sports,” says Aaron Lu, junior. He is on the Varsity Cross Country team. “I’ve been running Cross Country since the sixth grade, and since then I’ve known that. Practicing in teams is important, it helps motivate everyone and keeps everyone together in a pack.”

Even in races, when everyone runs for the highest individual placement, Aaron passionately argues that still. “During meets, running in packs is also very important, it helps keep you together with the other runners, and if you get separated from the pack, it’s very easy to get left behind and much harder to surpass them.”

The most important thing, he argues, is consistency. When Aaron first started out, he admits he was not the great at the sport. “I was really bad [at running] back in sixth grade. Running with my friends helped motivate me to train outside of practice, and by 8th grade I was running consistently better each meet.”

Winter running may also seem more time-consuming, as runners spend more time doing a sport during the school year, not providing time to rest between seasons; however, the runners practice and train out of their passion.

“I started running as an activity to do after school,” says junior Chinmay Amin, another member of the Varsity Cross country team who also has run since sixth grade. “I love running and I continue it in the off-season to keep myself in shape. It really helps me stay focused in school and efficiently manage my work, because I won’t be wasting the remaining time I have or else I wouldn’t be getting enough sleep.”

Winter running will be around two weeks long. By then, the track season will start and the runners will be prepared for track. The few that don’t run track continue to practice their winter training routine throughout the rest of the year in order to be ready for next year’s Cross Country season.

As the runners push for their final mile during training, they say they think about many things. They think not only about competing against those around them, but also carrying each other and staying together. Their entire pack bleeds red and black, as they swiftly move across the roads, cars stopping just to stare at the herd. They know that they have other things to do, so they keep their minds focused for the time being. The walking light counts down, and those in the front of the pack stop to wait for the rest of the group. The runners constantly think about all these factors, as all they are doing is simply just running.