Thursday, January 5, 2012

Running in college, part II: Making it through your freshman year

Last time, we talked about how to decide whether you should run competitively in college, and if so, where.  This post is about adjusting to the life of a collegiate distance runner, which can be quite a struggle at times.  Many freshmen right now are probably at home on break or just arriving back at college, still reflecting on their first collegiate season (for better or worse) and preparing to gear up for indoor track in the winter.  Many are probably disappointed that their first season didn't meet their high expectations.  Right off the bat, I'd like to share a piece of wisdom I wish I'd known before I left for college:
If you don't suffer a serious injury or get slower than you were as a senior in high school during your freshman year of college, you are ahead of probably half of your peers.

Many times, I've seen freshmen dejected after what they consider to be a lackluster season, but in the context of all the freshmen in, say, their conference, it was really quite good.  My own freshman year was much like this; perhaps my story will serve as a good introduction.  Many of the pitfalls that trap the "typical freshman" are obvious, but a few are more subtle.  I also had a few advantages given my running background in high school, and there are a few assorted traps that I managed to avoid, so afterwards, I'll deconstruct what I did right and what I did wrong and explain how that all applies to you, the newly-minted freshman runner.