The Secret Behind Distance Running

Getting up and running a 5k is not as easy as it looks, but the James Buchanan Cross Country team has it figured out.


Rachel Kimmel

James Buchanan girls start their race against the Boiling Spring bubblers on Tuesday Sept. 19.

Each runner lines their foot up along the white line stretching across an open field. Everything is silent, except for the cicadas buzzing in the distance. They brace themselves as the official raises both the orange flag and gun.




The gun is fired and the flag falls down as the runners start their long trek up and down hills and valleys and through forest and fields.


This is just the start of any three-mile race that the boys and girls cross country team had to run this fall.


The Cross Country team has successfully completed eight dual meets this month, as well as three invitationals. There have been numerous personal records from each runner and six boys and four girls from the team that has qualified for the district meet coming up in October. But none of this would have been possible without all the work and effort each runner has put into his or her race.


Before the race season even began, the team was already running. Jerome Staniszewski, head coach of the boys’ and girls’ Cross Country team, stated, “Throughout the summer we trained three days a week.”


Voluntary though it was, many of the runners showed up, giving them a leg up for this season. Their training consisted of a variety of running such as distance, speed work, fartleks, hills and interval training.  


“Even though the race is only 3.1 miles, we want to get a lot of miles,” says Staniszewski.


Each type of training improves the runner’s ability and endurance, which is all needed when racing.

Rachel Kimmel
Casey Dorsey runs the last few yards of his race.

Not only do the runners train physically, they also train mentally.


“There’s a large mental aspect to running,” Staniszewski explains as he goes into further detail about how to coach mental toughness.


Ryan Haylett, the assistant coach, is the mastermind behind coaching mental toughness. He leads the team in talks about ignoring pain and staying focused on their running form, which in turn helps them run better.  


“They’ll have us write write-ups about the races and different papers to keep us focused,” says Kaiden Stinson, 12, one of the senior runners who has participated in the sport all four years of his high school career.


By writing about their races, the runners are able to reflect on their performance and determine what they need to do to get better. Haylett will also have them write other write-ups about who inspires and motivates them.


Haylett also persuaded the team to do the steel commitment.


“He’s doing this thing that every time he takes a shower, the last minute he turns the water on ice cold,” says Stinson as he describes Haylett’s steel commitment, which is meant to help develop mental toughness that can be transitioned into racing.

Rachel Kimmel
(Right to left) Brandon Boyer, Jacob Asbach and Kaden Stinson watch the finish of the boys race.

From the efforts of physical and mental training, when the team has to line up to run any race, they always go in knowing they have worked hard and they should have nothing to fear because 3.1 miles has become a piece of cake.