With motivation and determination pushing them to the finish line, the Sam Houston State University Cross Country team members and Coach Greg Hinze talked about what drives the team to succeed in the sport. Hinze, the SHSU Cross Country and Track and Field coach said runners discover a lot about their individual strengths when they are running. “I think it is very demanding, yet at the same time, you find out a lot about yourself when you are out there running alone,” Hinze said.Most of the athletes are self-motivated, so it does not do any good to give a pep talk before they compete, he said.”They are either in shape or they are not,” said Hinze. “If they are not, then the results will give them the motivation to be better prepared the next time.”Team members train by running anywhere from 40 to 90 miles a week during practices. In competitions, the men run six miles while the women run four miles; therefore, they have to stay focused on the task ahead, he said. “They have to be very mentally prepared and stay focused for that amount of time,” Hinze said. After mileage training, team members lift weights for endurance training twice a week. “Unlike the football team, we are not trying to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger,” said Hinze. “Weight training is geared for endurance and a lot of abdominal work.”The sport is all about mind over matter and being able to push yourself to the limit, he said. “When your body is telling you to stop, you have to keep going,” Hinze said.SHSU men’s Cross Country team member Joe Amburn said the sport is a good way for him to get out and compete at something he enjoys. “It is fun to get out there and run with a team everyday,” said Amburn. “It is kind of like a family and it gives you a sense of belonging.”Wanting to win and loving to compete at something that is enjoyed keeps me going, he said. “People expect you to do good and you do not want to let them down,” Amburn said.We have to be ready to work out by 6:15 a.m. for mileage running on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, but on Tuesdays and Thursdays, we go to the field house for abdominal and weight training exercises, he said.Every team member has to be on time for practices, else the entire team starts practice without the missing member; however, they restart the exercise routine from the beginning when the absentee arrives, Amburn said. “This is good because it makes everyone be on time,” he said. Amburn said he prepares himself for a meet by organizing a team prayer to get everyone ready before they run. “The No. 1 thing I do is thank God for my ability to run,” said Amburn. “Prayer is the only thing really special to me that I try to do before a game,” he said. Amburn said that knowing how bad he wants to win and wanting to do good for the team encourages him while he is running. “Coach tries really hard to make us a good team and to win,” he said. “Sometimes I do it more for (the team) than me.”Freshman Lauren Smith said running is not a sport she trains for once a year, but it is a lifestyle she focuses on throughout the entire year. “Every part of my day ties into running and setting my mind frame,” Smith said.This sport is about having a lot of endurance, being able to stay strong for a long time and never giving up in your mind, she said. “The feeling you get when you finish (a race) is awesome,” said Smith. “My motivation is self-satisfaction and when you know you have done well, it is the best feeling in the world.”Smith prepares for a race with a prayer for encouragement and to help her focus her mind on running. “I pray to God to give me strength and then I try to focus on what I am about to do,” she said.The training is exhausting, Smith said, but she tries to get a lot of rest and eat right every day. “(Training) is really exhausting, but it is worth it and you get into shape,” she said. “I know what I am capable of and if I do not do well, then I have disappointed myself.”The SHSU Cross Country team will travel to Houston on Sept. 14 for their next meet.