During the first weekend of May, I had my final collegiate track meet on Long Island, running one race, the 10,000m. This was my final shot to stand on the podium and my final chance to PR and get some points for the team. I was seeded fifth, and was lucky enough to finish in eighth. I did it. I did everything I wanted to do during my final track season – PR in the 10K and place at conference championships.
Since I didn’t PR during conferences – I did during the home meet back in March – I still felt ready to run afterwards. I didn’t think my career was close to being over, despite having run nearly 100% to train for collegiate competition since the summer of 2011.
Not having practice, with a very strict workout schedule, was hard for me, so I signed up for a half marathon a week after conferences. I decided to run it easy, seeing as my legs were still pretty dead from the 10K, and racing 6.2 miles is actually quite different from racing 13.1 miles (as I found out after my way-too-fast first 5K of the half). It did really remind me why running is fun – but after having free entries to races the past few years, shelling out nearly $100 to run a race easily made post-collegiate running already seem like an expensive task!
Now, I’m in that weird in-between. I haven’t run longer than seven miles since my half, and I haven’t run every day, either. All of my runs have been solo, none of them have been speedwork, and with a full-time job and a move in the coming month I don’t know how I’m going to fit any more runs in.
When I first started blogging over here last summer, my persona – like it has been in almost every facet of my life – has been as a track runner. That’s how my coworkers, my family, my professors, and my friends all see me. But running on the same trails, alone, every morning doesn’t have the same charm as going to practice at 4PM every day, followed by ice baths and dinner with my team. It’s hard to follow a training plan I found online instead of one mandated by my coach.
I’m struggling, big-time, with what it means to be a post-collegiate runner. Do I have goal races? Do I have to run half marathons, or do I have to step up to the big leagues and train for a full? How long can I do these short five-milers alone until I have to buckle down and start a training plan, especially if I want to run the Charles Street 12? And where would I even find a training plan for a 12 mile race?
When I met with my coach for my end of season meeting, I said that I regretted nothing about this season. I had goals – to PR and to place – and I met both of them. I got over a lot of my anxieties and was able to finish a 5K on the track, something I had been afraid of just a few months before. He told me it was clear that I loved running, and this wasn’t something I was going to give up. And it’s true, I’m not – and never will, hopefully! – but the question remains: what do I do now?
I’m so fortunate to have such amazing role models here at Salty Running; mothers, Olympic qualifiers, and just amazing women in general. Hopefully, they can guide me through this new phase of my life. No matter what, I’ll be running through it, even if I don’t know exactly what it means to be a post-collegiate runner quite yet.
Are any of you Salties out there former college athletes, or can you relate?