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On the Run with Sam: Four Left Turns Lead to Home

March marks the time of the year when high school athletes from all sports are lacing up their running sneakers to stay in shape, or for the full-time runners, it is their time to shine after a long indoor season.

Outdoor track and field comes with some cool perks aside from running. You get to enjoy the (hopefully) beautiful season of spring here on the east coast. I seldom reminisce much on my time running track, but I do remember the memories I made with my teammates. 

With outdoor track and field usually pulling the largest number of athletes of any sport, it may be hard to find the close-knit feeling you may get in cross country or other team sports. With most teams practicing separately from each other (i.e., sprinters and distance runners rarely interacting in practice) you may be separated from your typical group of friends. Take this time to build a bond with other runners on your team that maybe you’ve never met or held a conversation with. My favorite phrase is “everyone has a story.” No matter how old you are, everyone does, and it may be a story you find fascinating.

Being on a team is not something that everyone gets to experience; and if you do, it won’t be forever. Your time together is finite. Make the most of your time: laugh, cry, smile. 

Let me share a short personal anecdote: When I was in eighth grade, I joined the modified outdoor track team after being cut from the basketball team. I knew no one. I spent a couple of weeks running on my own in the presence of the team. It sucked. I quit after those two weeks using my asthma as an excuse. After a day of being upset, I decided I would go back the next Monday. It happened to be at this practice, that I mingled with a group of girls a year younger than me. From that point on we were all inseparable. We even had an iPhone group message named “Track Squad.” (This was when naming group chats was brand new, forgive us for being unoriginal.) As my years on the team flew by, the group slowly dwindled as others found different passions to follow. After graduating high school, I reconnected with a friend who had been injured, Eleni. We stirred up the old memories and came to the realization of just how much time we had spent together over multiple years before injuries. You may not realize it now, but some of your teammates could be long-term friends. Take the time to get to know people. Be kind. You never know what someone else has experienced.

Finally, remember to try new things. Outdoor season is a great time to try events that aren’t offered during the indoor season. 

P.S. Listen to your coach when they tell you to stretch, eat enough, and drink water. Your future self will look back on you with gratitude. 

Samantha Simmons

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