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Cross Country Big City

A Week in the Life of the Columbia University Cross Country Team

Story by STRAVA October 22nd, 2015

Photos by Matt Trappe

Together as one

When the moment of truth comes and the starter’s gun fires at a meet, each individual on the Columbia Cross Country team crosses a chasm of pain in pursuit of his or her best time. Together these results count towards the team’s overall score and ranking in the meet. And every runner counts. The best teams transcend individual performance to become cohesive machines greater than the sum of their parts.


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all out, all the time

How do you fit in up to two draining practices a day, an Ivy League course load, recovery and the normal social elements of a college student’s life? You just crack on, go all out, all the time and get it done. And no matter what you’re doing, you always make time to have fun.

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getting away to go long

Central Park affords trail running inside the city, but the need for two-plus-hour trail runs necessitates getting on the bus for a field trip.

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do you even lift?

To hone their bodies and find an edge over the competition, the team hits the gym. Right-sized doses of functional training help them develop strength, flexibility, power and coordination without adding a single ounce of unnecessary bulk.

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speed work

Frequent speed work sessions provide the framework to find that extra gear. Chase the runner in front of you. Put time into the runner behind you. Spirited competition drives each team member to go faster and push harder.
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race day

They line up side-by-side as teammates, but they master their anticipation, anxiety and fear to push past all limits on their own and find the finish line on the other side of 20+ minutes of pain.

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relax. reflect. reboot.

When the race is over there’s time for a deep breath, a smile, a pat on the back, a high five. The dramatic inflection points within the race are relived. What went well. What went poorly. What can be improved for the next race. The effort of competition is over but recovery begins immediately. There will be practice tomorrow, and beyond that, another chance to go deeper.


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Footnote: Photos by Matt Trappe
New York, NY, United States