An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Sally Revere '79 and the 2021 cross country team

If you've never attended a cross country meet, you might think you'd only be watching a bunch of people run. But there's a lot more to it than that! Here's ten things you can watch for when you watch Lakeside's cross country team race:

  1. Captain-led team warm up including a run, dynamic drills, and sharing of goals. Why goal sharing? To help all team members focus on concrete things they can do to make their runs better, to have people hold themselves accountable for what they want to attempt, and to help team members understand more closely what others are focusing on and working to develop.
  2. The pre-race team cheer (“We’ve got the juice, the fire, the heart’s desire…”). Check it out in action here!
  3. The active-pain face visible on most of the Lakeside runner’s faces as they compete. Why a pained face? Cross country racing is about becoming more comfortable with being uncomfortable, and being okay with some physical pain. Tactics include Lakeside runners mentally dividing up the course geographically and working through each piece as separate units in order to conquer the course; using self-made mantras that they repeat to themselves as a way of distracting them from hurting; counting steps, or having visual cues – certain trees, or a flight of stairs, or a certain corner – pre-set along the course that indicate their progress and can be used as signs of accomplishment; even choosing words to accompany each section of the course in order to self-inspire.
  4. Grunts and calls to fellow teammates during the race: “keep going!” “Stay with me!” “You can do this!” (Most times they are actually more monosyllabic such as “go!” or “c’mon!” or a person’s name. There’s not a lot of oxygen to expend talking during a race.)
  5. Lakeside runners shaking out their arms mid-race on downhills, especially as a way to relax and loosen up their breathing and do a quick reset of their running form.
  6. Lakeside runners taking 5-10 quick steps at the top of every hill (this is called cresting). Why crest a hill? Most runners working an uphill are relieved when they get to the top. With that relief can sometimes come a decrease in effort and pace. Lakeside runners “crest” by continuing to take 5-10 hard-effort steps at the top of hills to prevent them from relaxing or settling into a slower pace. Cresting also helps put distance on opponents and mentally helps give Lakeside runners an edge over others. Lakeside runners appear stronger at the end of the hill because of their continued exertion as they crest, which in tight races can mean gaining a mental edge over those close by.
  7. Passing other teams with decisive conviction!
  8. Fierce kicks THROUGH (not to) the finish line.
  9. Team members who finish their own races then go back onto the course to cheer the rest of the team on. In a sport that may appear to be hundreds of individual athletes competing towards a finish line, cross country runners are team members bound together by the act of racing. Lakeside runners work to improve their individual times, while simultaneously being interested and invested in the successes and growth of their teammates. By finishing their own races and then going back along the course to cheer for others still competing, they show their commitment to each other and their understanding of what racing is all about. Once a person runs a race, they understand what the sport is like – and it is physically and mentally grueling. Support from people who know the suffering helps a great deal during races.
  10. Chocolate milk – quintessential post-race goodness. It is the perfect post-workout snack with the ideal balance of carbs and protein in a convenient package that is palatable to even those with a finicky post-race stomach. Consuming snacks 20-40 minutes post-race (known as the glycogen window) helps repair, replenish, and strengthen cells that were used during the race. Plus it tastes good!

Check out our full meet schedule here, and plan to come watch us race, and a lot more!


Follow Lakeside Lions cross country on Twitter at @LakesideLionsXC.