Coach Joey's Corner: Post-Collegiate Running

Training Update 3/11 to 3/24

Monday

o   AM: Pool run—15 min warmup, 10 x 30 sec hard/60 sec easy, 10 min cooldown

o   PM: 45 min bike

Tuesday

o   AM: 45 min bike

o   PM: Pool run—17 min warmup, 10 x 3 min fast/60sec easy, 10 min cooldown

Wednesday

o   AM: 70 min bike

o   PM: off

Thursday

o   AM: 30 min bike

o   PM: Pool run—15 min warmup, 16 x 90 sec on/60 sec off, 10 min cooldown

Friday

o   AM: 60 min pool run progression, 5 min cooldown

o   PM: 45 min easy bike

Saturday

o   AM: Pool run—20 min warmup, 4 x 10 min hard/2 min easy, 10 min cooldown

o   PM: 54 min easy outdoor bike

Sunday

o   AM: off

o   PM: 64 min outdoor bike

Monday

o   AM: Outdoor bike—20 min warmup, 20 min steady, 20ish min cooldown

o   PM: 33 min elliptical

Tuesday

o   AM: off

o   PM: off

Wednesday

o   AM: 80 min easy outdoor bike

o   PM: off

Thursday

o   AM: 45 min bike

o   PM: Pool run—10 min warmup, 8 x 4 min hard/60 sec easy, 2 min easy, 6x60sec hard/60 sec easy, 12 min cooldown

Friday

o   AM: 20 min warmup, 12x3min hard/90sec easy, 9 min cooldown

o   PM: 35 min outdoor bike

Saturday

o   AM: 90ish min most very easy bike (with runners)           

o   PM: off

Sunday

o   AM: off

o   PM: 60 min bike

Very Tentative Racing Schedule

·         Hot Chocolate 15k 2/16 (1st in 49:14)

·         Purity Dairy Dash 15k 4/13

·         Grandma’s Marathon 6/22

Some Thoughts

Das Boot

Das Boot

“Omg, what happened?!” –Approximately 253 people over the last couple weeks

It’s been a long two weeks, and a very busy last week, which is why there was no update. On the bright side, the foot seems to be getting better and other than a couple minor lapses, the cross training has been going well. It still sucks, to be sure, but you can get used to anything, right? On the not so bright side: I’ve missed a whole lot of good running weather, this has already taken longer than I was hoping it would take, and I’m sure I’ve still lost some fitness.

Anyway, today I thought I’d write about a somewhat random topic that I’ve been thinking of writing about for a few weeks.

Post-collegiate running

When I was a sophomore in college, after training mostly solo for a year, I walked on to the cross country and track teams at Duke. Running in college was a great experience: twenty instant new friends who all liked the same thing you did, free gear, laundry service (!!!), access to trainers/masseuse/unlimited Gatorade, the opportunity to travel for races, etc.

Another very striking feature of collegiate running, especially at the D1 level, is the depth of quality. There are so many fast runners. If you ever think you’re getting good at running, just find a semi-competitive collegiate race that allows “open” or “unattached” entries and run it. The humbling effect is instant and effective. On my team alone, which was good but definitely not the best, there were times when we had multiple sub-4 min milers on the team. Also, guys (not me) running mile repeats in 4:40 on a not-flat trail was just a regular Wednesday. And when I was in peak shape, able to run a 10k around 5 min pace, I was only 9th/10th man on the cross country team. The 8th man was a good bit ahead of me, and 7th was completely out of reach. A middle of the pack runner at NCAAs would probably beat me by well over a minute in a 5k, and probably be halfway done with dinner by the time I finished a 10k we both ran.

A young Joey struggling for survival in the wild.

A young Joey struggling for survival in the wild.

So where do all these fast people go? Unfortunately, many who are not at the very very top simply quit running competitively after college. In my opinion, this happens for a few reasons.

1.       The difficulty increases while the motivation decreases. Access to teammates to push you in training and the aforementioned perks disappears overnight. Also, any running you do post-collegiately is simply for you—you’re not running to better your team and no one is counting on you. Also, most collegiate runners have already trained very hard. It’s difficult to keep this level of training up (or increase it) in order to keep improving.

2.       There are far fewer goals to train for. In college, you’re always trying to qualify for the next meet, beat specific competition, or even just move up within your team. After college, there’s pretty much none of that. The only goal is improvement for improvement’s sake. Still a worthy goal, but not quite as motivating. The one exception to this is the Olympic Trials in the marathon, but that’s a topic for another post and doesn’t really help milers/5k guys.

3.       The support is gone. Coaches, financial support (other than scholarships, which are unfortunately somewhat rare) like free shoes/gear/travel, strength trainers, gym, etc all go away.

Anyway, hopefully that somewhat incoherent list illustrates the point: many talented runners stop running at the age of 22/23. The ones that do keep running at high, but not professional levels are generally those that love running for its own sake, and/or have a good setup somehow.

I think both apply to me, but since I talk about the former like every week, I’ll briefly talk about the latter. One huge help is running for a race team like NRC’s. I promise this post is not sponsored 😊. I just really appreciate their support, which includes gear, a team atmosphere, and access to perhaps the greatest mind in Nashville in Lee Wilson:

Lee, the greatest boss of all time.

Lee, the greatest boss of all time.

Seriously though, I’m pretty sure the having the race team (or at least my presence on it) hurts the store more than it helps. My theory is that Lee (and Beth and everyone else involved) just loves running and supporting runners who are still trying to compete competitively.

I’m also blessed in Nashville to be in the company of a few other runners who are still training hard and are around my level. As a result, the majority of my runs, including workouts, end up being with company, which is a huge help.

As a grad student, I also have access to the Vandy rec and Vanderbilt’s best sports medicine doctors and physical therapists. And a nice pool to do all my injured pool running in. So basically I’m pretty lucky to still be running and randomly have all these nice things.

Anyway, this is getting way too long so let’s call it there. See you next week, hopefully with at least a little running under my belt!