I’ve been running for as long as I can remember. As soon as I learned to ride a bike, I rode along with my dad on his runs. Once I was old enough to tag along on foot, I started running — and never looked back. I ran all through middle school and high school, but I wasn’t prepared to run in college.
I had no idea what I would be getting myself into. I had been running for close to a decade already, but I didn’t understand what it took to run at the collegiate level. I had always run when I felt like it; and if I didn’t feel like it one day, I took the day off. Now, I go months at a time without a day off. The transition from high school to college can be a tough one. If you love the sport, though, you’ll never quit — here’s a heads-up on what you can expect.
The first major adjustment you’ll make is from racing a 5k (or 3 miles, depending on where you live) to an 8k or 10k. It may not seem like much, but it can take a whole season to figure out how to race for 5 miles.
When I was in high school, we raced at least twice a week, and sometimes more. Now, I run 5 or 6 cross-country meets a year, and about the same number of track meets. You’ll soon realize how important these opportunities are.
Growing up in Indiana, we didn’t have the steeplechase in high school. Or the javelin, or the hammer throw, or the triple jump. Collegiate track is a great opportunity to try something new. Don’t expect to run the 800 every meet. You’ll likely try different things to find out what you’re really good at.
In high school, many coaches know that there are only so many runners in their school. It’s important to them that you continue running, because you may be a valuable asset. In many collegiate situations, though, they could take you or leave you. Running in college is a huge commitment, and they know that if you don’t want to be there, there is no point in begging you to stick around.
Running as a Way of Life.
You’ll realize that the ones on your team who are committed aren’t just runners when practice time rolls around. It takes getting the right amount of sleep, eating the right foods, and taking care of your body to perform at a high level.
Making the transition from high school to collegiate running can be hard, but it can also be very exciting. There is a world of possibilities out there. You just have to find your niche and excel at it.