Being new to the sport of cross country can be exciting and difficult at times. In my eight seasons of cross country I have seen newcomers succeed in the sport and on the team. I have also seen newcomers fail at the sport and ultimately end up quitting the team. Expectations that a newcomer might have of what the sport is and what it is like to be part of a cross country team can often be misleading. Being a cross country runner is more than just running fast times. You have to become part of the community in order to become a true cross country runner. I have seen runners fail in becoming a part of the cross country community for many reasons from work ethic when it counts to how a person actually runs. Many of these parts of being a cross country runner and part of the community can be difficult to learn. Learning these more difficult aspects in becoming a member of the community can help a newcomer become successful in cross country      

James Paul Gee is a linguist who explains a community as a Discourse. He says Discourses are certain ways of being, acting, valuing, and believing. A newcomer to cross country has to learn these certain ways in order to become successful in the community or Discourse and prevent failure in becoming a cross country runner. Gee also wrote a paper on the language and activities used to give the ways of being, acting, valuing, and believing meaning and calls them building tasks. In other words building tasks are how you can successfully express the ways of the community. A article about cross country was written on a website called Mile Split. This is a website where cross country runners can go to see results of races or catch up on news within the community. The article which was written by a group of cross-country runners displays accurately the ways within the cross country Discourse.Using Gees paper Building tasks and the papers by other linguist experts Lisa Delpit and Deborah Brandt the article can be analyzed to understand the parts of the community that is hard for new runners to understand.

One of the Building tasks Gee mentions in his writing is is the building task of Identities. Gee say in the paper that Identities are “language to get recognized as taking on a certain identity or role, that is, to build an identity here and now.”. One of the statements in the article established one of the identities a cross country runner needs to take on. In the article it said

“Cross Country is not simply about the race. Cross Country is all about what you do to prepare for the race.”

The language in this quote really builds the identity of a hard worker that every cross country runner needs to take on the role of for tough workouts and for the amount of  work it takes to be in the best shape you can. Reading the article and Gee I have found that their are many identities a cross-country runner takes on. In another quote it said

“Cross Country is kids who are thought to be some of the smartest students in class — until you sit next to them on a three-hour bus ride.”

This quote built two more identities that are a of being of academic importance, but also friendly which is a little stereotypical but I have taken on both of these identities in the discourse before. Using Gee it was clear for me to see some of the roles every cross country runner has to take on.

Another Building task that Gee talks about is significance. He explains this building task to be

“things, we need to use language to render them significant or to lessen their significance, to signal to others how we view their significance.”

Looking through the article I was looking for things that I know cross-country runners find to be significant. Pr’s and Pb’s are one thing that cross country runners find to be significant in the Discourse community and this statement from the article gives signals in the language to show the significance

“Cross Country is the never-ending pursuit of a PR or a PB.”

The never ending phrase in the quote can be consider a signal to show the significance of Personal records because it emphasizes how big of a goal it is for a cross country runner to break them.  Signal words in the language being used in the article I was able to point out the values held in the Discourse community.

Brandt talks about sponsorship in her paper. Brandt says that sponsorships can be anyone in my experience for when I was a newcomer to the Discourse community it was through the sponsorship of captains and coaches that helped me become fluent in the discourse. Delpit in her paper talks about how primary Discourses don’t have to be abandoned in order to acquire a new Discourse. In the article it is said

“Cross Country often favors the skinny kids but beware to never take that not-so-skinny kid in front of you lightly.”

 this quote to showed that cross country runners come from in all different perspectives and don’t needed to abandon parts of previous Discourse communities in order to fit into the the cross-country Discourse.

Another building task that Gee brings up in his paper is the building task of activity or practices. In another artifact that I found on how to train for cross-country explains the different activities and practices a cross-country runner needs to perform. The article explains how racing in a cross-country race is much different than a normal road race or track race which a non fluent member of the Discourse might expect to prepare for. Pete Magill, who is a four time national cross-country champion tries to explain why cross country races are different then track and road races in the article. Pete explains

“A well-planned cross country course will do everything possible to disrupt your stride, your pace, and your focus. So the trick is to stop worrying about stride or pace. Find an effort level that you’re confident you can maintain, then make that your guide.”

So for a newcomer to the cross country Discourse they would need to understand this language and the difference between pace and effort. In the article they then list activities to help newcomers learn how to run based on effort and not pace. One of the examples is training with hills. Putting some hills in your workout will help a runner think about where to use their energy. The hills obviously require more energy to run but are only a short part of the run so it would make the runner think how to place the effort just like they would have to do in a race. A hill workout is a is an example of the building task of practice for a very important part of the cross-country runner Discourse.

Going back to the quote from Pete Magill in the article made me think about Brandt’s paper and sponsorship. Pete Magill’s advice in the article is a perfect example of a sponsor. Brandt explains a sponsor as

“… are powerful figures that bankroll events or smooth the way for initiates. Usually more richer, more knowledgeable, and more entrenched than the sponsored…”

Giving Pete’s background, success, and insight of the sport in the article it is easy to see that he meets the requirements of a sponsor for the cross-country runner Discourse. Brandt mentions the word entrenched in the quote. this most likely means that a sponsor is firmly established in the ways of their discourse. With this definition that Brandt gives us it should be noticed the it is hard for sponsors to see different ways of achieving building tasks in the Discourse. In Pete’s case it might be hard for him to see other ways of achieving efficiency in a race then the practices of hills. there could very well be other activities or practices a runner can do to achieve the same goal, but Pete as a sponsor  has become entrenched in the practices that have worked for him and made him a success in the discourse.  

The article also gave quotes from coaches on how they prepare for races. One coach Joe Vigil who coached many national champions before says

“If possible,survey the courses you’re racing and duplicate the challenges of the course as much as possible within your surrounding geography. Make it tough, as hard as you can make it, then run a weekly workout on it hard.”

Looking at this quote you can see fragments of language that cross country coaches use to establish their relationship with their runners. The tone of the language and the words he uses to describe the workout in the quote really establishes his relationship with his runner that he is there to make them better runners and that he knows what is best for his runners to perform well. Recognising this type of language used by coaches and how it defines the relationship between a cross country runner and their coach is using the building task of relationships that Gee explains in his paper as using language to try and signal what type of is trying to be established in the group. In this case the coach uses language to signal his knowledge and role as a teacher for his runners. A cross-country runner would also have to display the proper language with his or her coach when communicating with a coach or teammate.

The article mainly talks about the differences between races on the track and road compared to the races on a cross country course. The article suggests that someone who has only run track would have difficulty adjusting to a cross-country race then most newcomers because they might approach it like a race on a track. It would be difficult for them to abandon their track Discourse to master the cross-country Discourse and become successful in it. Delpit in her essay I think would argue against this article’s claims. In her paper she says it is troubling that Gee says one’s primary Discourses can prevent the acquisition of a new secondary dominate discourse.  In her paper she is also able to back up her ideals with evidence of people overcoming Discourse conflicts and acquiring a new Discourse without abandoning their primary Discourse. From personal experience I have seen many track runners successfully with their with pacing a cross-country race instead of basing it on effort levels.

Along with my own experiences I found an article for people just starting out in the sport. The article has a section that talks about using other sports as a cross train for cross country. In the article it says

“If you’ve done another sport, keep doing it as a form of cross training. Go out to shoot some hoops or kick around the soccer ball it can be a great supplement to your running.”

This quote can be considered further evidence in Delpit’s claims. The article claims that dominant Discourses from other sports do not present conflict in acquiring the cross country Discourse but instead can help in training and preparing you for success as a cross country runner. With this article’s claims it is seen that other Discourses from other sport do not have to be completely abandoned in order to become a fluent member of the cross country runner Discourse.

The same quote talked about in the last above can also be used as an example of the building task connection. Gee explains this building task to be

language to render certain things connected or relevant (or not) to other things, that is, to build connections or relevance.”

In what was stated in the article the phrase “cross training” builds a connection between the cross country Discourse and other sport Discourses. Understanding the parts of a previous Discourse that can work in a new Discourse can help a newcomer become fluent in the new Discourse when it is applied correctly. In the example of cross training doing another sport such as biking or swimming on an off day of a running schedule is something a lot of cross country runners do. In some cases it is a mandatory part of the training so having prior knowledge and making the connection between the two Discourses can be very beneficial.

There is a lot to learn coming in to a new secondary Discourse. For the cross country runner Discourse in particular there are a few things that is hard for a newcomer to learn. Learning how to run like a cross country runner is a very important part to mastering the Discourse. The practices of hill running and different terrain running can help a newcomer learn not to run by pacing but by effort level. Learning the identity roles a cross country runner needs to take on is also a key part of the Discourse a newcomer needs to know. Learning these identities help a newcomer learn roles they have to take on in the Discourse. These parts of the Discourse learn to build through the building tasks in Gees paper.

Secondary discourses can become beneficial to newcomers when they learn to master them. Being a cross country runner provides the social benefits of being part of a team and community. It can also bring you a certain prestige or status for certain situations