Jack Scherer is a senior at Oshkosh North High School in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. A recent signee of Northern Arizona University, Scherer owns the 19th-fastest 5K in the country over the fall cross country season. With career personal best times of 4:29.19 for the mile and 9:12.60 for 3,200m, he will be looking to drop time and compete for his first Wisconsin Division I championship this outdoor track and field season. Here, he writes about his late entry into the sport, and the adversity he's faced since committing full-time to running.
You are honest and just. You constantly reward consistency, patience and grit, and you rarely provide shortcuts.
I began running in junior high but didn't invest much time or energy into getting the most out of myself until my sophomore year of high school. During this time I directed most of my attention toward basketball but failed to see the hours of practice translate to excellence. Despite not having an initial love for the pure act of running itself, I cherished the fact that I could see my effort directly translate to success.
Running served as an outlet for an intense competitive drive, and you allowed me to get the most out of myself.
Unfortunately, once I did commit to you, I took this work ethic to a detrimental extreme and I often ran myself into injury. I would sometimes feel mounting anxiety and dread after a performance and figured training harder would alleviate these feelings. Of course, this irrational drive consistently left me in pieces by the time any season rolled around. And this pattern continued like clockwork; I suffered an injury every cross country and track and field season through my junior year.
If I'm being honest, navigating both the injuries and the high expectations I set on myself made those seasons more miserable than joyful.
However, the most impactful change came in my mindset: Running was no longer just a means to an end but rather a daily blessing.
After receiving a stress fracture in my third metatarsal before my junior cross country season, I was unable to train without pain for nearly seven months. It was then when I watched my goals slip away as I dealt with the roadblock and I felt the pangs of regret that came with it.
Ultimately, I had to reassess my relationship with the sport. But the silver lining is that it allowed me to view my past mistakes in clear hindsight.
I changed key parts of my training, such as allowing myself to truly recover on easy days, and I paid close attention to technique during workouts. I stopped taking it running so seriously and began going out of my way to have fun.
However, the most impactful change came in my mindset: Running was no longer just a means to an end but rather a daily blessing. I made this attitude of gratefulness the center of my thoughts, whether it came to training or racing.
And with few race opportunities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this mindset helped me find balance and gratitude. I've begun to see those positive results of consistent training in the few races I've had this year.
Additionally, with more attention paid to my mental health and how it interacts with my physical fitness, life and running has brought a sense of stability in a time where much is uncertain.
Of course, the process of cultivating a positive mindset is never over, but I'm eager to take on that challenge.
Once I allowed myself you, you revealed your beautiful intricacies and brought me more joy than anything else. You anchor my life and you always provide a simple sanctuary. I will always have immense gratitude for that.
Oshkosh North High School '21
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Read the full series here.