The questions I get asked most in my life have to do with my running career. I think I am kinda known as “Sienna Crews, the runner,” in my community, and at my school. I used to resent that, but I realize that running is part of my identity, so I am okay with it now. But let me just tell you, life as a runner is not an easy thing. Especially when you throw “college student” in the mix.
College years are pretty stressful as is. Difficult classes, academic expectations, endless hours of studying for tests or working on projects or writing papers… It can really drive a person crazy! Then add a sport to that. I’ll be the first to admit that cross country isn’t nearly as time consuming as some of the other sports out there, but it is just as demanding.
Let me explain, during the season we have morning practice at 6 am every Tuesday and Thursday, followed by evening weights. So in one day that adds up to about 3 hours of mandatory practice. BUT. As someone who is injured, there are doctor appointments, physical therapy, and multiple forms of cross training. So on a typical Tuesday, half of the team has spent 4-5 hours on cross country related activities. I would say it is pretty normal for a college student to be awake 16 hours of the day. Subtract 3 hours of class time, those 4-5 hours of practice, about 2 hours if you add up every necessary meal for the day, and then another 2 hours because we have to be in bed by 10 in order to get a good night’s sleep for our practice the next morning, and the average cross country runner gets about 4 hours total to study in one day. That doesn’t even take into account the number of showers and having to get dressed several times! Man. The wasted time.
So now that you understand the time we put into what we do, let’s talk about why. We have 7 or more meets in one season: 5 or 6 during the preseason, and 2 or 3 in the post season. Through all that, our bodies have to maintain enough energy to run 25-75 miles a week (depending on the runner and the time of year.) If we do not get the right conditioning in, the races are going to be significantly harder to run, and significantly more disappointing, especially as a D1 athlete.
On a typical Saturday, the team boards the bus at approximately 4:45 am, arrives at the location of the meet about 2 hours early, race, finish, cool down, clean up, get on bus, stop to eat, get back on bus and go back to the school. This is typically an 11 hour ordeal.
Student athletes do get a lot of reward for the hard work we put in though! Sometimes we get free gear, when we are on the road, we get free food, plus we get recognition. We have a lot dedication for the sport we participate in, and that fuels our desire to do well on the course, field, or court, plus we strive to do well in school! (If we don’t do well in school, we aren’t allowed to participate in practices or athletic competition.)
I’m sure every athlete has a story of their own on the crazy things they have to spend time on. But I think we all have something in common: we all work hard.