NAXC Runners Weigh the Pros and Cons of Competitive Running

Runners from the North Allegheny Cross Country Team compete in a meet with other schools.

NAXC

Runners from the North Allegheny Cross Country Team compete in a meet with other schools.

For many people, their sport impacts their mental health. Runners from the North Allegheny Cross Country team express how they feel about the sport and how it contributes to their stress levels. 

Running on a team is not just a great way to develop as a person, but as a teammate as well. Sophomore Maia Getz says, “I have many things I love about running. It’s really rewarding and a great way to stay in shape, but I think the best part about it are the bonds and amazing memories I have created with my teammates…. I come back each day to continue to grow not just as an athlete but as a person, too.” Running shows to be a significant part of the students’ day and provides an outlet to develop as a person and be part of a team. 

However, being a part of a team can contribute to the runner’s stress levels, especially as a student. “…When there are meets I’m definitely more stressed because I’m worried about not just the meet but trying to get all my homework done so I don’t have to stay up super late after a meet working on school work,” says Getz.

Running is a sport that heavily relies on numbers and the outcome of the race or workout.  Senior Clarie Majerac explains how her workouts and races impact her day.  “Practice can affect my day in all kinds of different ways, usually depending on what we’re doing and how the run goes. If there’s a good workout on the calendar that I do well in, my day is better and I feel good. But, if there’s a workout that isn’t so great, then it can stress me out or make me lose confidence in myself,” says Majerac. 

If there’s a good workout on the calendar that I do well in, my day is better and I feel good.”

— Senior Claire Majerac

Being on a competitive team, Sophomore Delaney Tedesco recognizes the stress that comes with that. “The team is very competitive because of how much talent everyone has, and we are all competing for the top spots, to be able to go to more elite meets. I feel like if I don’t do well, I’m letting myself and my teammates down, so the fear of failure is definitely a contributor to stress,” she says. 

However, while anxiety is a factor in running, the students still believe that the stress is worth it. “Running makes me a much happier and positive person. It increases my self-esteem when I run a time that I never thought I could run or when I make it through painful workouts. Plus, being with all the other amazing girls on my team just makes me so happy!” says Getz. 

Running on such a competitive team can induce lots of stress and anxieties on the runner, however students on the North Allegheny cross country team recognize that running also relieves their stress. Majerac explains, “I run because it helps me stay focused. Whenever I don’t run or get some kind of physical activity, my day is weird and off. What makes me come back each day is getting to see some of my favorite people ever.”

During practice when I am running with friends, I’m not thinking about tests, homework, or any other thing that is stressing me out in my life.”

— Sophomore Delaney Tedesco

While Tedesco agrees that running contributes to her stress levels, she also concurs that practice is a safe space where she can relax. “During practice when I am running with friends, I’m not thinking about tests, homework, or any other thing that is stressing me out in my life. As soon as we start practice, I feel like I just forget about all of my stressors and just relax with the people I feel comfortable with,” she says.

Despite the fact that racing causes anxiety, the students believe that the pressure is worthwhile. Pieto says, “Getting out and running at the end of my day definitely helps me relax and cool off if I am having a bad day. It’s a great way to get your mind off things and also talk with your friends.” 

While racing is stressful, the North Allegheny cross country runners believe that the ups and downs are worth it. Tedesco summarizes, “I think running is the best possible thing for my mental health. Like I said, it takes away all of my worries for the time I am at practice, and the team bond is incredible. I feel so supported by the team and that if I ever needed help from anyone on the team, that they would do anything they could. The team is like a 2nd family to me, and I always just feel so great and happy whenever I’m around them I feel connected, happy, and accomplished when I run with the team.”