Since starting to coach, I have often thought of the experiences I had while on my own high school cross-country team in Bremerton, WA. I had run track starting in 7th grade, but I didn't start running cross-country until my junior year. I don't know why. I sure wish I would have started sooner. I had some great experiences running (and playing) with my team.
New Runner Initiation
Bremerton lies on the Puget Sound is western Washington, and many of our practice runs ended at a Evergreen Park right on the water. Each year, the seniors and others who had been on the team in previous years would round up all the new folks, carry us (kicking and screaming) out on the pier and throw us into the chilly water to swim back to shore. Some tried to get away, some fought back, others just accepted the inevitable, and others skipped practice that day only to be thrown in the next time.
All of our meets were on Thursdays, so Fridays would almost often be an easy practice. For us, we spent practice playing ultimate frisbee, or frisbee football as we called it. It actually is a really good workout. We always had a great time, and I learned how to throw the frisbee really well.
My Hardest Workout
We had a lot of hard workouts, but the one I remember most was on the track during my senior year. We had to run 250 meters 10 times (I can't remember how fast we were supposed to do it, but it had to be super fast), and the only recovery we had in between was the amount of time it took us to jog from the finish back around to the start where coach was yelling at us.
I already mentioned that a lot of our runs ended at Evergreen Park. At the park were a few swing sets. I was usually in the first group to get there, so while we were waiting for the rest of the team, I loved to jump on the swings. You'd be surprised how it helps your legs after a long run. I always felt great after jumping off.
A lot of people believe the myth that it "always rains in Washington." As a cross-country runner, out in the elements, you get to know the truth. This is not to say that it doesn't rain a lot, because it does. And some of those showers can be really torrential! Bremerton is split in half by an arm of the Puget Sound, and connected with a couple bridges. I remember one day on a run, it started pouring on us. We were running with a strong headwind across one of the bridges. The wind was so strong, that when we got back to school, the front of me was drenched, while my back was almost completely dry!
Thinking about the fun experiences I had during those years gets me excited for the kids I am coaching. I also look forward to the time when (hopefully) my girls will want to join the ranks of cross-country runners.
1996-97 Bremerton High School Cross-Country Team