As new season starts, coaches and members reflect on their experience and set new goals
Even if the weather is at a sweltering 80°F at 3:20 pm, the Cross Country runners are ready for their three hour practice of running up to 8 miles at a time. On the second day [Aug. 19] of practice since school started, Coach Kirk Flatow started off an inspirational speech.
“If you can’t do something, you’re going to make it work out,” Flatow said. “On a hot day of practice, don’t just think it’s hot and then give up, but think that you will be ready for the heat at [Sept. 6 meet] Early Bird.”
The coach hopes that this year, the team will work their hardest to improve their times by the end of the season.
Coach Kirk Flatow
El Estoque: How do you think last season went?
Flatow: I was very proud of the kids. Just up and down the board, from the kids who were fast and the kids who were working hard, it was really a special thing.
EE: Are there any differences between this year’s and last year’s team?
Flatow: Every person is different and unique. Running is different than any other sport because it’s not graded on the curve. If you’re in the classroom and you’re graded on the curve, you just rank them in order. This person is great, this person is bad.
In most sports, like football, there is a winner and a loser. You rank [relative to] how you’re competing against other teams. There is that in running too, but the difference in running is more importantly, that you are competing against yourself. Last year’s boy and girls did great and this team doesn’t have to accomplish the same things to still have a great year. Or they could do better, but that doesn’t make the last team worse either.
EE: Do you have any goals set for this season?
Flatow: My goal for the team would be, if I could have one thing, is that I would want everybody to set a personal record. The thing about that is, what about the other team? I think that if everyone set a personal record, we would also do very well in competition. We’d score well, we’d win stuff, we’d get a lot of medals, but that is only second to everyone setting a PR.
Freshman Mizuki Kadowaki
EE: What interested you in running and cross country?
Kadowaki: I did Cross Country and Track and Field in middle school, and I really enjoyed it. I used to do swimming a lot, and we did some running, and I thought running might help you, which is why I joined cross country in middle school.
EE: How do you think cross country helped you with other aspects of your life?
Kadowaki: It really helps me with time management. I also have to watch food, and what time I go to sleep.
EE: Have you done anything to help with running?
Kadowaki: I always watch my food, because I’ve always been an athlete. I know I eat a little more than normal people because I burn more calories. It’s more of what I eat, than the amount.
EE: How do you feel about high school cross country?
Kadowaki: Everyone is really supportive, and the coaches really know what they are doing. I’ve learned about what shoes to wear, what to eat, that kind of stuff. It has been really helpful.
Returning varsity member junior Madeleine Yip
EE: How has your team supported you last season?
Yip: Cross country is really personal because runners understand each other’s pain that they have to go through, and they understand how hard it is to get back into shape or how to overcome an injury. We give each other advice so for me, Julia [Julia Chang, Grade 12] is the one who can relate to me the most because she understands the pressure that runners put each other under.
EE: Do you ever feel like not running because you did poorly?
Yip: It’s kind of addictive. It’s that feeling when you can’t get a math problem right, but you will eventually get through.
EE: Apart from improving your health or athleticism, how has Cross Country affected other aspects of your life?
Yip: It has helped me developed resilience because I learned to bounce back from mistakes, and just keep cracking at something and just keep chipping away until it works. It helps me be a little more competitive. If you want to be better than the person next to you, then you have more motivation to succeed.
EE: Do you have an example of applying cross country values outside of practice?
Yip: In math class. I started out the semester with a F on the first test, sophomore year. It was really discouraging, and I was crying. It was pretty bad. But then I went to my teacher for help, when I had a problem. My math teacher and I worked through it. I knew what to improve on, and eventually at the end of the semester, I pulled through, with the help of the resilience I developed in cross country.
EE: What’s your reason for running right now?
Yip: It’s part of the high school experience. When you’re part of varsity, it feels like you’re part of something special. I enjoy getting close with my varsity team mates because they’re all quirky and weird like me.
Returning varsity member Julia Chang
EE: How do you think your team has supported you?
Chang: I ran with the [alumnus], Bridget Gottlieb, for a very long time. Also, Madeleine Yip, because I always see her working so hard. Everyone is so open, and they both work so hard, so it inspires me to work harder.
EE: How has your coach helped you?
Chang: He does normal coach stuff, like telling us the workouts, but he’s also very inspirational, and gives me a better mindset when I’m training. I became more positive and worked harder.
EE: What kind of hardships do you go through when you practiced and how did you overcome it?
Chang: For running, especially for me, I had a lot of of hard patches when I just wasn’t coming through and getting good results. I learned you have to work through it, and know not to stop, because you could have a breakthrough sometime soon. Just never stop.
EE: Apart from improving your health or athleticism, how has cross country affected other aspects of your life?
Chang: Having cross country made me a more scheduled person. I have to finish my homework on time. Cross country also made me more relaxed because something about it is just very soothing. Also, I get to hang out with people, so I made more friends.
EE: Do you have a sports person that you look up to?
Chang: Billie Mills. He came to talk to us in 2012, and he’s really inspiring because he won a gold medal in the 10K for the olympics. It was really cool to actually meet him, so he’s my favorite.