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Getting to Know: Arianna Balinnang

Getting to Know Cross Country Runner: Arianna Balinnang

Who/what got you into running? My dad was definitely the biggest factor. With him doing cross country and track in college, running was something he valued deeply, and shared it with me from a young age. He inspired me to give running a shot, and thanks to him, I’ve been doing it ever since.”

When did you begin running? I remember running weekend jogs with my dad as early as first grade, but I first started running competitively through Girls on the Run in 3rd grade, then continued with Running is Elementary in 4th and 5th grade.”

How do you prepare for Cross Country in the off season? “After State, we’re required to take a two-week break with no running before we jump straight into track winter conditioning so that we can rest and recover from a lengthy season. But when track starts officially in the spring, track serves as great preparation for cross country as it keeps our bodies accustomed to running. Right after track ends, we also have early morning practices and workouts during the summer so that way when August rolls around, we’re ready to race with confidence.”

What are your favorite things about Cross Country? The Friday pasta parties are hard to top, but I really appreciate the mental toughness that cross country has armed me with. It’s a sport that’s executed with both the body and the mind, so when I race, although I don’t love it in the moment, I’m being strengthened and pushed to my limits in more ways than one. But even more than that, I love the team itself. They’re my second family and my best friends, and the encouraging, supportive environment that we and the coaches create each day makes the hard moments all worthwhile.

What are some of your pre-meet rituals? I’m one of the so-called team hairstylists, so from the bus ride to the course all the way until warm up, it’s become a habit for me to give the girls endless Dutch, French, bubble, and fishtail braids before a meet starts. But besides hair, as a team, we always have Kaylie, one of the seniors, lead us in a team prayer during our final stride outs, which never fails to get us pumped up.”

What is your favorite course to run? I think my favorite has to be Ox Bow. It’s a course we’ve raced a lot and I’ve come to familiarize myself with. I like that it has a bit of everything- straightaways, hills, trails, and that since we’ve ran there so often, I’m more aware on which checkpoints I need to speed up at if I want to meet a specific time.”

What is your PR and how did it feel to accomplish it? 

My current PR is 19:39, and I set it last year at the IWU Marion course. Going into the race I felt prepared; all the conditions, including the flat terrain, were perfect. So when I saw my time, I was super excited that both me and a lot of my teammates were able to obtain personal bests.”

What are your favorite snack/drinks to have before meets? “I’m always eating Clif bars and rice cakes and downing some Liquid IV before a race. I’m usually too nervous to eat anything super fulfilling, so I keep it pretty light.”

What are your goals for this postseasonPersonally, I’m hoping for a better mindset going into track. This season has been hard for me in terms of improving my times, so I want to try to train harder and gain back some motivation so I can run better this upcoming track and cross country season.”

What are your interests in pursuing running beyond high school? I’m not sure if I want to continue cross country or track competitively in college yet, so I’m still debating if it’s something I want to pursue beyond high school. But whatever I decide, I’ll definitely keep running, even if it’s just for fun.”


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