October 13, 2022

Three Things Thursday #2

I have actually really been looking forward to this "three things Thursday" post idea that had randomly popped into my head last week. It's such a broad writing prompt, and I can make it into whatever I want. I love writing prompts when I'm not sure what to write about.

Today, I thought I would write three things that I love about coaching cross country. The season is almost over already! This year, I realized that I definitely missed it; maybe it was good that I took two seasons off, because I found this season to be really fun.

However, it is stressful, too. If I didn't have so many other things going on over the past couple of months, I don't think I would have been stressed about it; the timing of everything was just bad.

But anyway... here are three things I love about coaching cross country:

1. There is always one kid that really tugs at my heartstrings. Usually, this kid (boy or girl) is super enthusiastic about running, doesn't complain, wants to get faster, asks me questions, and does what I have planned for the day (running easy on easy run days, really pushing themselves on speed work days, running long on long run days).

All of the kids have something unique about them that I find endearing, but there is always one kid in particular who I see so much potential in and I hope that they continue to run through middle school and high school. I like to tell the kids that cross country is such a great sport because distance running is something they can do forever; it doesn't end after high school, like most sports. I'm always so sad when they move up to the middle school and I can't coach them anymore!

There is usually one kid that drives me crazy, too, but in an endearing way. There was one boy that I coached for three years and he had an excuses at EVERY SINGLE PRACTICE why he couldn't run. But he always had a big grin on his face when he told me! And he knew I would tell him "Too bad! It's cross country. Now go run."

This year, I see him at practice frequently because I coach his brother. I always tell him that he can run alongside his brother if he wants, but he gives me an excuse why he can't run. Hahaha!

2. Coaching really brings me out of my shell. I'm a very quiet, shy person in general; but when I coach, I feel confident and I get loud. I talk probably way too much, I joke around with the kids, and I refuse to accept excuses for not running. I feel authoritative and respected. It gives me a boost of self-esteem. I think the kids can see that I really care about them and that when I push them, it's *because* I care.

My very favorite part of the races is the final kick to the finish line. I stand in a spot where I would like them to start their kick (running a full-blown sprint) and when I see them coming, I yell as loud as I can, "Cheetah! Now--fast as you can go! Pass him/her! Someone is right behind you, go! Everything you have!" And I almost get choked up when I see a sudden spark in their eye and they immediately pick up the pace to full-Cheetah (our word for "sprint"). When they pass someone at the very end, I get ridiculously excited.

And then they usually walk past me when they are finished. I always ask how they feel, and if they say anything other than "Like I'm going to puke" or "I'm going to pass out" or something like that, I tell them they didn't run hard enough ;)  (They've come to expect it now, so they know the "right" answer!)

3. I really love to push the kids to do more than they thought they were capable of. On long run days, I give them rubber bands to keep track of their laps, depending on their ability (some kids will get 12 rubber bands while some will get 7 or 8). Each week, I try to increase it by one; the kids will look at me like I'm crazy when I tell them how many laps they have to do, and their jaws usually drop. When they tell me they can't do that many, I tell them yes they can, now go do it! (And no walking!) ;)

A lot of times, they will choose to run extra--and I LOVE that attitude. There are always a few kids who are like energizer bunnies and they just want to keep running and running. I've stayed after practice a few times in order for them to run more laps if they want.

I never give them more than I think they can handle and it's so fun when they do what they told me just an hour prior they "couldn't do". Their confidence grows throughout the season and they look forward to seeing their race results (I always stress to them that it doesn't matter what place they come in; they should just try to beat their previous times. They are competing with themselves.) They have plenty of time to worry about placing in races once they're in high school; at this age, I just want them to learn to enjoy running so that they'll want to continue.

Okay, so there are three things I love about coaching cross country! I wish the season wasn't so short. I feel like as soon as I learn all the kids' names, we only have a single race left. (I'm notoriously bad with names; Renee is a teacher and can memorize 120 kids' names in two weeks, where it takes me 6-8 weeks to remember 17 names!)


  1. I'm so glad you took the time to coach this season. You needed the boost and those kids must adore you!

  2. I totally understand how you can shine as a coach, but be shy and introverted at the same time in other circumstances! I am SO dang socially awkward and hate crowds and speaking in front of people......until I'm teaching kids. It's amazing how that works!


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