The student news site of Atlantic High School


The student news site of Atlantic High School


The student news site of Atlantic High School



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Cross Country Mentality

Dive deeper into what it really takes to be a cross country runner.

As the fall season is nearing its end and cross-country runners are getting ready for the state meet, have you ever wondered what it mentally takes to be a cross-country runner? 

Each and every runner has to mentally face obstacles and roadblocks keeping them from reaching their full physical potential. Those who don’t participate in the sport don’t grasp what it mentally takes to be a cross-country runner. Head coach of girls and boys cross country at Atlantic High School, Dan Vargason, said, “I just think there is a common misconception that cross country is just going out and running because to do cross country you need to be mentally tough as well.”

According to Dr. Alan Goldberg on, cross-country runners need to be able to “adjust quickly at a moment’s notice to sudden and sometimes unexpected changes in the course.” Goldberg said, “Getting good at running is 95 percent physical and 5 percent mental.”

Vargason opposes this statement, “I disagree almost completely.” Going into further detail, Vargason said running long distances at Olympic levels and fast pace is a physical challenge, but running long distances just to do it isn’t challenging physically at all. Vargason said, “Starting out for the average person, it’s more 95 percent mental.”

While running, varsity runner Katrina Williams thinks of how far or how little of the run she has left to motivate and “push” herself forward. Williams said she thinks about what Vargason said, “Why not now?” If she doesn’t go hard now then she’ll regret it later. Williams does a lot to mentally prepare for a run, from maintaining composure to talking herself through the nerves. Williams’s advice for future runners who are mentally struggling is to “keep going as hard as you can because, in the end, it’s worth it.”

Junior varsity runner, Dane Wiederstein gets a lot of mental blocks while running, but tries to push through it to finish out the run. Wiederstein said he gets a lot of his mental motivation to keep pushing physically when people are cheering from the sidelines, “especially when you’re passing by teammates.” For part of the season, Wiederstein was suffering from an ankle injury, which caused him to fall behind in practices. When returning to running Weiderstein said he tried not to doubt himself and gave himself confidence. He said from day to day his mental state will change depending on how he feels, “but I try not to let my mentality affect me physically.” His advice for future runners is that “it is definitely worth it and you feel accomplished when you finish a run.”

Senior varsity runner Braden Spurr said during the first 400 meters of a race, he feels good, but not long after he has the feeling that he started off too fast or too slow. “It’s just miserable,” Spurr said, “until the last 800 meters.” Then he pushes and picks up his pace until he finishes off the race.  During practice, Spurr said it’s pretty easy and relaxing. He does whatever he’s told and runs at “100 percent.” He tries not to think about it, stay calm, and not get “overly anxious,” or “worked up.” Spurr’s advice for future runners is that “you don’t always feel like you’re gonna die.” There are some points where “the run is fun.”

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