Why Should I Run XC?

(Adapted from a speech by Jeff Johnson -- the first full time employee of Nike)

“Why should I run so many miles? Why should I train in the heat... in the rain... in the wind... in the dark... in the
cold? Why should I run?

You are considering that question right now. It's not an easy question to answer, is it? "If someone has to ask, they'll
probably never understand," is a Cross Country runner's first thought.

Cross Country is the expressway to self-confidence, self-awareness, self-discipline and self-reliance. From Cross
Country, you learn the harsh realities of your physical and mental limitations. From Cross Country, you gain
strategies for extending those limitations, so that you will run farther, run faster, and run tougher. You learn that
personal responsibility... commitment... sacrifices... determination... and persistence are the only means of
improvement. Cross Country, you come to understand, is a profound, far-reaching and never ending contest of the
runner with himself or herself... for the team.

It is about self-conquest. No matter what your first time at the finish of your first race, you will remember it. We all
run the same course every meet, everybody runs! If you fear being too slow, don't. If you fear you can't handle the
pain, don't. You will become a better... stronger... more confident person... with a capacity for achievement greater
than before, and with a formula for success that is forever engraved on your brain.

So, why should I run?

Why do you compete? Why do you race 3.1 miles? That's gotta hurt. You race for the challenge... the danger... the
rush of putting yourself in a place where you must do your absolute best because the race requires it. To give your
best is to honor your fellow competitors... your teammates... your coach... Centaurus... your family... and your
community. To give your best in a race is a matter of honor... and duty... and you know that going in. You know,
also, that the different courses will challenge you... that your competitors will challenge you... and that you will
challenge yourself. You know, too, that there will come a critical moment in every race where you must make the
decision to lay it on the line... to take your shot... or to fall back and regroup. Do not fear that moment. You hope
you'll be up to the challenge, but you're never entirely sure... and it's that uncertainty that calls to you... because it is
there, at that moment, that moment of decision, that you offer yourself up to be measured: by the clock... by your
legs and lungs... by your guts, and by your heart. Your teammates will be there for you.

So really, why should I run?

I want you to recognize yourself, through Cross Country, as someone who is learning to take responsibility for your
life... someone who is learning to control your own destiny. "I want you to know that the lessons you learn as a
Cross Country runner will stay with you your whole life... that as a result of being a Cross Country runner you will
gain the habits of a winner: setting goals... working hard... doing your best... being patient, persistent and focused. I
want you to realize that the formula for success in Cross Country -- hard, consistent, intelligent work -- over time,
equals improvement... equals success. It is the same formula for success in life. I want you to see that making a
commitment, laying it on the line, and taking a chance pays off more often than not. I want you to know that
whatever else you do in life will always be better as a result of you having been an athlete. From being an athlete
(and especially a long distance runner), you are already a fundamental victor. You may not know it yet, and
certainly don't understand it, but if you choose it, Cross Country will never leave you. It will lead you down avenues
of achievement and success that you cannot yet imagine.”