by Marina Salsbury in Training Tips, image by North Central College

Running in College

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Going to college and keeping up with your running can be difficult. Whether your school belongs to the NCAA and you’ve joined the track team there, or you just run for fun, it’s tough striking the perfect balance between classwork and running. Here are some things you should know about running in college.

If you’re still in high school and just starting to think about college, now is the time to start doing the research and planning out your method of attack. If you intend to keep running meets or hope to run professionally someday, there are three different divisions of schools that belong to the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The first two divisions both offer financial aid to athletes, although it is much harder to get this kind of funding from a Division I school because of their greater budgets and accordingly fierce competition. Division III schools don’t offer scholarships for athletes, but are good places to go if you still want to run competitively.

However, when contemplating a school, it is important to note you should not toss academics for running. Injuries happen and interests change as you get older, and it’s important that you are able to do other things if necessary. Make your primary focus the education program, not just the team.

Whichever school you decide on, there will be a lot of dedication required. Whereas in high school most people run 30 to 40 miles a week, college runners can expect to run around twice that much. College runners are also expected to lift weights regularly. College teams are far more serious when it comes to practice because of the kind of competition at that level, so expect to devote a lot of your free time to workouts. However, it is college still, and many coaches will be lenient if you have to study for tests or write papers, especially if you’re in a Division II or III school.

In high school most people run 30 to 40 miles a week. College runners can expect to run around twice that much!

Even if you’re not on a team, running can take up more time than you might have expected. College academics are more often than not quite time-consuming, and of course there’s the interest in living life on your own and making commitments to hang out with your friends. If you want to keep up a regular running schedule on your own and do all these other things, free time can be hard to find, especially if you want to sleep too.

One way of handling this is just to wake up a little earlier every day to do short runs regularly before classes. This helps you be awake for your classes, and ensures that your evenings are free to do whatever else you need or want to do. You can also run with friends, which can be a great way to hang out and also to make sure you keep running.

College running can be much more difficult than in high school, but it can also be very rewarding. It is a time during which you can realize your full potential as a runner. It’s a four-year window of opportunity you can use to your advantage to become the best runner you can, and to show others your best as well. Just don’t forget to go to class while you’re at it!

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