A runner's high!
Cross Country Running
A runner's perspective
It was a great experience those many years ago when I think back and remember the training regiment, the warm-ups before the big race, the nervous butterflies I felt in the pit of my stomach waiting at the starting line for the gun to go off and then the mad dash amongst hundreds of runners to the cheers of my teammates and fans on the sidelines. It was one of my most favorite activities back in high school running on the cross country team and training daily. We ran according to a clearly defined schedule orchestrated by our coach who was a role model, a mentor, an advisor, a friend and a disciplinarian. He brought out the best in me and my fellow teammates during those training sessions and I remember having some times where it was hard to continue but we ran in packs and we always had our teammates there together supporting each other and giving each other reassuring praise and encouragement to forge on.
For me running was always about feeling free and conquering challenges. I always trained hard and put all my effort into each and every workout. I always felt exhausted after completing our workout sessions as coach always pushed us and instilled in us to always put forth our best no matter what. I never felt like giving up because I enjoyed challenging myself and when I was running with my teammates I felt a bond and a spirit that made up for the pain and exhaustion I may have felt from time to time.
The best part of running cross country was the feeling I felt after a good training session and seeing the results in a race when I bested my time from a previous performance. I always felt proud when I completed a race and when I heard the cheers of my teammates as I passed them on the sidelines along the course of a race. It motivated me and helped me continue on in the race. I was a dedicated runner and I put everything I had into each race as I learned this from my coach and my parents. I always wanted to run since I was a kid as it was liberating and helped me stay in good physical shape and it was nice to win the affection of a pretty girl or garner their attention.
I remember the pep rallies and the bus rides to our races and the overnight trips. It was a wonderful part of my high school days and it taught me about setting goals and achievement. I was shy by my very nature so I felt comfortable running as it was a healthy and enjoyable outlet and it enabled me to meet great people and develop warm friendships with my teammates and competitors. We all had a desire and a common goal in our running and we all were there for each other. We all had differing abilities and there clearly was a distinction made between the top runners on the team and the JV squad. I was respected on the team and treated well yet I was not on the varsity team. Despite that I still was always pushed to do my best and I was always cheered on in every race by my teammates. They inspired me and made me feel good as I was part of a team and I belonged.
I believe it is very important to be accepted and to know you have people pulling for you. In life that is all we can ask for. We all want to fit in and feel like we belong. This is what I so want for my autistic son. I want him to challenge himself and to find his passion and put his best effort into it and be rewarded and have the opportunity of sharing the experiences and joys with others.
If I can teach my son a valuable lesson about life I would point out to him the importance of setting goals, working hard to achieve them, practicing to develop confidence and putting forth your best effort whether you win or lose. Running is one of the best examples I can use and my experiences are always there to draw upon and share with my son. I will take him with me to the track I used to run in high school on and take a lap around with him and teach him about life, challenges, effort, dreams, goals, accomplishments, pride and the courage to always go forward no matter what.
Running is life and life is about setting goals, conqeuring challenges and realizing our dreams through hard work and effort.
Edward D. Iannielli III
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College cross country running
Cross country running
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