Frequently Asked Questions

Coach Tracy Hellman leads a post-Griak team chant, Sept. 2017.

Runners engage in small talk uniquely — and not just because of our stereotypical awkwardness. We meet a new person. We converse. We joke and laugh. The conversation goes smoothly until we say the following phrase:

“I run cross country.”

Immediately, alarms sound. People can’t comprehend that we run multiple miles at a time — only to run more miles the next day and steadily increase the amount of miles we run weekly while increasing speed until we reach a point in time at which we run the fastest time or the longest distance or a combination of the two and during the entire process we risk destroying our hips and legs and feet and brain — just for fun.

Admittedly, cross country is a pretty weird sport. So, for those of you who don’t quite understand what we do or why we do it, I’ve compiled a handy list frequently asked questions:

Q: Why?

A: When I was nine years old, I played YMCA soccer. Despite my limited athletic skill set, my parents noticed that I was rarely benched; I was the only kid on the field who could run during an entire half without getting tired. So, I joined Girls on the Run during the school year and competed in USATF junior meets during the summer. Quickly discovering a passion for the sport, I wanted to pursue competitive running for as long as I possibly could. Crazy as it may seem, I still have that passion as a junior in college.

Q: How do you even do that?

A: It’s kinda like walking, but faster. Imagine that a bear starts chasing you. You have no weapons or cars. What would you do in that situation? Okay, now do that, and keep going for at least a couple minutes. Congratulations: you have now completed a run.

Q: Are you being chased?

A: No.

Q: Do you ever get tired?

A: Yes.

Q: And you do that for fun?

A: Yes. When I run for an extended period of time, endorphins flood my brain, resulting in a euphoria commonly known as “the runner’s high.” So, yes, running is scientifically proven to be fun. And after several endorphin-filled runs, I increase my chances of entering and excelling in competitive races — resulting in even more fun. Most importantly, this fun-filled sport gives me the opportunity to praise and glorify God: the ultimate source of fun.

Q: What’s wrong with you?

A: *laughs awkwardly* *shrugs shoulders*

Q: How far do you run?

A: My daily mileage varies based on how my legs are feeling, whether or not I am injured and what kind of workout my coaches schedule. When I’m healthy and strong, I run 35-45 miles per week. The distance may seem far, but after nearly a decade of slow progression, the mileage is manageable.

Q: Do you run every day?

A: No. I usually take Mondays off, substituting running with aqua-jogging, biking or elliptical. When I’m injured (or even just half-injured), I run even less.

Q: How fast are you?

A: As Dwight Schrute would say, “I’m somewhere between a snake and a mongoose. And a panther.”

Emily Tromp and I model our Top-30 finisher sunglasses after the 2018 UW-LaCrosse cross country invitational.

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