Why We Run – The Secrets Of Cross Country

The benefits of Cross Country far outweigh the struggle.

PC: Eliot Juno Yun ’19

Do you ever feel like you just don’t do enough in your life? You never go on volunteer trips because you’re too shy, too lazy, or don’t speak Korean… You never sign up or get into school clubs or committees that look pretty on other people’s college applications… I’m sure that at some point in your life, you’ve felt like this—hopeless.

The prejudiced summary of what people think when they hear “cross country” is all about the physical and mental stress that it puts on you and the terrible struggles you face throughout, but as a member of the team, I can say that this is not the whole truth. I asked a few questions to one cross-country captain, Jenny Lee…

(Interviewer): “Do you think that people should join cross-country?”

(Jenny – XC Captain): “Yes, definitely. Cross-country is a very beneficial sport… ”

(Interviewer): “Why?”

(Jenny): “Well, I guess cross-country just fits a wider variety of people… ”

One main benefit of cross-country is physical health. By running, you will gain muscle strength and endurance—and most likely your dream six-pack—but there are even more advantages you will receive. According to an article from Harvard Health, a runner’s risk of death by anything in general is reduced by 30% and their risk of death by strokes or heart attacks is reduced by 45%. Another article from the WomensRunning magazine stated that simply running 5 minutes each day was enough to decrease your risk of getting cardiovascular disease by 45%. Another fact is that you will undoubtedly end up drinking a much higher amount of water which has its own enormous set of health benefits on its own.

Another benefit of cross-country is mental health. According to the WomensRunning magazine, running reduces your risk of depression by 19%. And as they say, cross-country is a mental sport. The more you improve, the stronger your mind will be in terms of not giving up—which is a far more important skill than you might think. Cross-country is known as a mental sport because it focuses on long-distance running. You run at a certain pace for an extended period of time. Because of this, you have to spout nonsense positivity at yourself for the entire race to keep going, which has a surprisingly effective and positive impact on your mental state. The harder you try, the prouder you’ll be, and even if you don’t try that hard, you’ll still gain some degree of respect for yourself because you’re simply able to withstand that mental challenge.

There are no judgements in Cross-country—unless you brag to people about how hard it is and how amazing you are because you’re on the team. Age or social status doesn’t matter. You will be accepted into the team no matter how strange you are. And to be absolutely honest, the team members might be the weirdest you’ll ever meet—including the coaches. I observed that everyone was running their own race. Cross-country may be a team, but we are all running our own individual races to improve ourselves.

The students that don’t do this sport usually say they don’t do cross-country because they’re not good at running. According to several members of the team, “whether you are good at running or not, doesn’t really matter”—it is just an excuse for their lack of motivation. Of course, this may not be true and some students may prioritise other sports or activities over cross-country, but if you’ve got nothing else to do, why not take just two hours of your time slacking off, procrastinating, and simply sign a few forms that say “Off campus agreement” and “Medical release form”, etc… that really mean, “I want to improve myself”.

Running is hard. There is no denying that it is, but I’d argue that dying of heart attacks, strokes, or cancer is just as stressful. Do you not believe that practising alongside these funny, enjoyable team members to get a healthier, stronger body, stronger mind, and greater respect for yourself and others, is worthwhile? You may say you’re never going to join cross-country, that it’s not worth the shaky breath, the sweat, the aches and cramps, but as one of the captains has said before, “People should join cross-country for its benefits, and for the fact that it fits a variety of people”.

What she meant by this, was that no matter how short, how tall, how unpopular, popular, or smart you are, the team will care for you—so long as you treat everyone else with true, unbiased respect. You will be given immediate value for joining and you will learn to love yourself and be more confident. I have never seen more equal, accepting, and supportive a family as the KIS cross-country team.

– Michelle Lee (‘22)

Featured image: Eliot Juno Yun (’19)

Fall Sports and Why Sports are Important

The start of November marks another closure to a season of sports.

Starting from the first week of school, fall sports tryouts were well on their way to select the best athletes for KIS’s fall sports: tennis, volleyball, and cross country. Athletes went through a grueling first week, working to outcompete others to make the final cut. Once the team rosters were finalized, athletes committed to daily after-school practices except for Mondays. Practices for volleyball and cross country started as soon as school to end just a bit past 5 PM. Unfortunately for tennis, because the “home” courts were located off campus, practices usually ended much earlier – around 4:45.

Once all three sports were 2 weeks into their practices, athletes attended their first game which continues until the KAIAC tournament in which all teams compete with each other in their respective league. For the varsity teams, selected members are given the opportunity to participate in additional tournaments that are usually held overseas.  Varsity cross country and volleyball athletes alternate years hosting the AISA tournament or competing in Japan. For tennis, athletes travel abroad to the International School of Beijing (ISB) to participate in the Dragon Tournament.

With fall sports having their final week of practice just over a week ago, here’s how they have finished their seasons:

  • The junior varsity volleyball teams placed 5th place
  • The varsity girls volleyball team placed 5th in the KAIAC conference, 4th in the KAIAC tournament, and 4th in the AISA tournament
  • The varsity boys volleyball team placed 1st in the KAIAC conference, 5th in the KAIAC tournament, and 1st in the AISA tournament
  • The varsity girls cross country team placed 1st in the KAIAC conference, 1st in the KAIAC tournament, and 1st in the AISA tournament
  • The boys cross country team placed 2nd in the KAIAC conference, 2nd in the KAIAC tournament, and 1st in the AISA tournament
  • The varsity boys tennis team placed 3rd in the KAIAC conference, 3rd in the KAIAC tournament, and 3rd in the Dragon Tournament
  • The varsity girls tennis team placed 3rd in the KAIAC conference, 3rd in the KAIAC tournament, and 4th in the Dragon Tournament

The final event on the list for all sports was the banquet in which coaches present accolades for each team: the Most Valuable Player award, Most Improved Player award, and the Coach’s Award. The cross country held their own banquet separately, as they usually do, due to the large number of cross-country athletes. The banquet for the tennis and volleyball teams was held the next day. As each sports team was called up, the coaches recognized the athletes and presented the awards to the most exceptional athletes. The banquet was emotional for coaches and athletes especially when senior athletes were recognized for their final year. Following the tradition, the managers for each team presented a video of the highlights of the season in which the athletes were able to celebrate their final moments of the season.

Sports have been an imperative constituent of the numerous extracurricular activities that are offered in KIS. KIS highly values sports and the profound benefits of sports, and for good reason.

Having been involved in the tennis team since my freshman year, I cherish the memories I’ve made through the team over the past few years. I was able to bond with student-athletes and sports managers I most likely wouldn’t have even talked to if it were not for my involvement on the tennis team. Luckily this year, as members of each grade level was on the members of the tennis team, I was able to meet various freshmen and sophomores. I’ve also befriended students from other schools whom I have met during various games or the Dragon tournament. From traveling abroad and eating amazing food to simply cheering on our teammates, all of the experiences have been a joy. All the team dinners, always followed by noraebangs sessions, were always fun too. Even if we didn’t come out victorious, sport teams are great because they act as a great stress-reliever and an amazing way of sharing memories with fellow teammates.

Here some students’ responses when I asked them what they like being on their sports team:

Playing tennis on the team for the past years have helped me let off stress in the times that I needed most. More importantly, the team has helped me bond and be a part of a new family.
-Diane Kim (Captain of Varsity Girls Tennis) (’19)

After injuring myself playing basketball, I gave a volleyball a try. After playing for a while, I began to love the sport and be good at it which allowed me to participate on the volleyball team for the 4th year. I also love the friends I have made while being on the team; overall, I just love the sport so, so much.
-Richard Chung (’19)

– Andy Kim (’20)

Featured Image: Eliot Yun (’19)

The Biggest Cross-Country Team in KIStory

“Run like you stole something!” –Mr. Y

Cross-country is known for its 10 kilometer sessions every practice and countless cases of shin splints throughout the season. During every practice, Captain Jerry Kim (12) witnesses his runners complaining: “I’m so quitting this tomorrow,” until the very last day of season (what an irony!). Despite the daily adversities, KIS currently has the biggest team in KIStory.

 

So let’s see why some students are crazy enough to join this team:

  1. Free Karaoke Experience

Running (for some, sprinting) 10~13K everyday means not only increasing your cardiovascular abilities, but also expanding your lung capacities. You can even hear it! Everyday after practice, all runners gather at the fitness center and sing out their sore muscles while taking an icy shower. It’s hard to imagine how you won’t grow close after an intimate session of karaoke. Quite an interesting experience to jump into don’t you think?

“Imagine ten high schoolers singing “I Miss You” by Bum Soo Kim. That’s us in the fitness center shower room everyday.” – Jerry Kim (12)

  1. Join the Biggest Fam-Bam

While SFS has 40, YISS has 40 and SIS has 30, KIS has an astounding number of 65 runners this year! More people means more support, right? All cross-country runners share post-practice stretches, “cool-down” jogs, and the overall experience all together. Though many athletes have been injured lately, the whole team still endures one another’s pains together in the fitness center. Also, there’s a rumor that H505 has ice treatments to enjoy during your newly embedded autonomous blocks.

“By running in cross-country, we don’t get to know our limits. We get to know that there is no limit.” – Terry Lee (12)

  1. Going Bananas for Bananas

“If you’re not a fan of water and bananas, join cross-country. The two will be your lifesavers.” – Joy Youn (11)

Every cross-country member knows that they run for bananas. KIS is the only KAIAC team that provides potassium-packed bananas to every single player, after every single practice. The feeling of achievement these bananas bring exceeds the daily pain, encouraging the runners to push their limits a little further.

  1. Crazy Coaches

“Run like you stole something!” – Mr. Yanuszeski

KIS cross-country team is known for its crazy coaches – Mr. Yanuszeski, Mr. Bunting, Mr. Reschke and Ms. Yousey. Most of them ran in high school and in college, and they sprint through the entire training session. On top of their above-and-beyond physical abilities, they are “laid back” and great partners to talk to before and after practice. Talk about having excellent examples!

“Mr. Bunting wears shoes that look like socks and has a water bottle that looks like a bag…” – Yoo Bin Shin (10)

  1. Potential Guam Trip

If you are the lucky top 7 of either gender of cross-country, you get to compete in the Guam race! Running alongside international runners, making new friends, enjoying delicious meals, all while enjoying the beautiful scenery of Guam – who wouldn’t miss that?

 

– Lina Oh (’16)