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Running After High School

This message is in response to the many high school athletes that have asked about running in college. I will try to clear up some misconceptions as well as common myths associated with running at the collegiate level.

RECRUITING: The very best way to get the attention of a college coach is to approach him/her yourself. Don't wait for them to come knocking at your door. Sitting around by your cell phone or refreshing your Yahoo Mail account won't help either. Sell yourself a bit. If you really, really have the passion to run at the next level, there will be a place for you, but you may have to do the leg work and contact the coaches yourself. E-mails and letters work great. Every college has a website with a recruiting questionnaire: FILL THESE OUT. Also, don't overestimate your ability. That is the beauty of running: it's pretty objective. Either you have run the times or you haven't. Maybe you have had some injuries, or other obstacles, but don't be offended if you don't get a scholarship offer that you think you deserve. That being said, many colleges will take walk-ons (non-scholarship runners), but be prepared to train as if you were a scholarship athlete. Joining a team is a commitment, even if you're not getting a financial award to participate.

TRAINING: Many athletes think that they would never be able to handle the training load of a college athlete. You may see runners coming back to your hometown in the summer talking about 70, 80, 90, 100+ mile weeks, etc. Sure, most college programs like to run fast, so this type of work is necessary. However, these kids have used a progression to get where they are through years of work. Of course there will be hard training days, but you're sharing this work with your teammates and really (believe me on this) you can adapt to anything. There is no better feeling that knowing you have reached a fitness that many people never experience in their entire lives.

ACADEMICS: This is why you are going to college in the first place: to further your education. College courses are designed to hone your professional skills, problem solving skills, etc. In your first year and perhaps your second year, the classes you will take are general and mostly an extension of what you have done in high school. Many people like to use scare tactics and make college sound harder than it is, like it's some sort of miracle that they made it through. Don't get me wrong, completing a college degree program is a great feat and one that anyone should be proud of. However, with proper time management and good study habits college is doable for pretty much anyone. Don't be afraid to ask for help in the form of tutors, etc. Time management is key. You will be on your own for the first time for most students and much can get in the way of studying. Simply have discipline and get your work done FIRST, then have fun, meet new people, etc.

I'll add more to this (and probably come back and correct grammar mistakes, etc. later) when I get more questions from high school athletes.

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