What They Don’t Tell You About College Running
Everything that your club or high school coaches tell you during your youth running career is to prepare you for the realities of college and professional competition, right? They (should) guide you through your training routine, what to eat, cross-training, etc. You (should) be well prepared to enter the college running world with the common knowledge that it will likely be more competitive, rigorous, and time-consuming than what you’re used to. However, with college coaches getting an entirely new batch of runners every four years or so, you may end up having to take up some of the expected coaching responsibilities yourself.
It may surprise you that college coaches are often more indifferent to your injuries and less invested in the recovery of them. They’re getting paid to train athletes that will win and get them street cred, unlike your high school or club coaches that are paid by membership fees or get a bonus to their teaching salary. It is quite frankly not their job to care about your health and well-being, even though they should.
It will be your responsibility as the athlete to know the warning signs of your injuries and care for them appropriately, because if you still appear to be competent and capable, your coaches can and will push you past your limits.
It is important for you to understand the many ways that you can be proactive in caring for yourself under the pressure and intensity of college training. There are the obvious things we should all be doing like stretching and cross-training, but there are many other additional techniques to look into such as tracking mileage increases every week, routinely replacing shoes and having them custom fitted, or occasionally trying low-impact methods such as water running or spinning.
Furthermore, the best way to manage injuries are to avoid them. High-risk and high-impact activities such as flag football, rugby, skiing and snowboarding are always culprits of injury and should be avoided at least during the competition season. Surrounding yourself with people who want to succeed the same way that you do will be helpful in avoiding pressure into engaging in these kinds of activities.
Of course, we all know that taking any of this guidance can be difficult when your four years of education relies on your performance if you are a D1 athlete. It is important to remember that you can always get that education, and it is not worth permanent damage to any part of your body that you might have to deal with for the rest of your life. In the case of injury, you can always recover and still compete through cycling, triathlons, duathlons, etc. In addition, the reality of it is that it is unlikely that any college athlete will get a pro contract afterwards, especially if they have suffered untreated injuries. With that being said, take care of yourself and your desires first because pushing through injuries for your coach’s salary is not worth it for you in the end.
Running Correspondent :: Carolynn Wicker