As gleaned by my experience, and mine alone, with special thanks to the coaches and mentors who gave me this advice along the way; I hope you don’t mind if I appropriate your words.
My thoughts, advise and observations from four years as a middle distance runner on the team.
1. Treatise On Training and Competition – What I didn’t know before Carleton
- Running in the rain/sleet/snow/wind makes you a tougher, stronger runner. On days like these, it’s less miserable with a teammate or two.
- If you find a good route, write it down and share it with the team.
- Pace is irrelevant on recovery runs. If everyone else is jogging too fast, you are more the wiser to hold back.
- I hold the belief that you’re probably not going to get any homework done during a track meet, and suggest that maybe you shouldn’t.
- Make sure to take interest in other people’s performances. Be creepy. Memorize their PRs. Ask them when their event is. Watching someone PR can feel just as great as doing it yourself (sometimes better because you’re not the one performing)!
- If you get injured, don’t dwell on it. Do your PT. Ice. Have faith. You will recover. Don’t rush into it.
- Race so hard that you puke. (It hurts, it really does.)
- In still air, you gain 1 second of effort per lap by drafting. This means if the crazy girl directly in front of you went out in a 31, effort-wise, you ran a 32. That being said, be smart first, and then gutsy.
- Middle distance races are about Momentum. Move when it feels right. React instinctually. And don’t worry about splitting even in the 800, because you shouldn’t.
- Train over winter break, but don’t overtrain. You risk setting yourself up for a plateau.
- Don’t strain. Run fast without running hard.
- Weight-training keeps you from getting injured. It really does.
- In championship races (middle distance on up), chances are that the first lead runner won’t win unless she’s ridiculously faster than the rest of the field. Ergo, run strategically if your race allows.
- Refuel within an hour of finishing a workout, within 20 minutes if you can.
- Foster a collaborative environment, not a competitive one. But still be competitive and want it for something more than just yourself. A part of me always wants it for myself, selfishly, but sometimes the team matters more. For others, track and field can be too individual, and they find it hard to feel like they’re doing it for a team. Everyone struggles with this in one way or another. There is no ONE way to motivate everyone. Understand that telling some girl to go out and win it will psych her out, but another will have a crazy PR. It’s important to know what motivates YOU and what gives you strength. And maybe I’m wrong, but I think it’s all about finding something outside of yourself, because in the moment, you will break down and you will need to draw your strength from elsewhere, whether its the mantra inside your head or your teammates or the crowd cheering or God.
- I maintain that running is an immensely spiritual experience, sometimes zen and contemplative, sometimes raw and fierce, bringing you that much closer to pain, pleasure and death, and bringing you back to life again. Then you cross the line and look around and realize that the girls gasping for air next to you made that trip as well. There are only a few instances in my life in which I’ve experienced communal transcendence like that. Whatever you believe, recognize the spiritual component of running, what it does to you, and imagine that maybe the lactic acid is a side effect of fleeting immortality.
- Whatever your ability level, remember that you are doing something that not a lot of people can do or want to do. You will be stronger because of it.
- If you could give me a year of 1000m glory, that’d be nice, but I totally understand if you break the record in at the beginning of February.
- There is more to life than running. (Okay, I realized this while at Carleton.)
- If you’re a runner, read Once a Runner before your collegiate career is over.
- Start believing in yourself sooner. Especially if you think you’re not “good enough.”
2. Treatise On Tradition – Fuel, Fire, Hot Desire
- Wear your banana sweats and 80’s jacket every chance you get. Never let a boy wear them. Never ever.
- The arb is full of secrets. Ask the upperclassmen about them.
- Quack Oles, but never high schoolers, Carls, or townies.
- Maintain traditions and positive relations with the men’s team.
- Create and augment more women-only traditions.
- Continue to bridge the gap between training groups and event areas.
- Buy tubs of ice cream and eat them together without separate bowls.
- Participate in leisure dinner.
- Take steps to make the Table feel more inclusive for everyone on the team.
- If you wear all black to practice, you are a pilgrim.
- Wear spandex/buns on Bunday Monday.
- Relays should huddle before races. Doing a cheer helps your chances.
- Make locker room CDs full of songs you love and add them to the archives.
- Talk about the women who came before you. Name drop them to freshmen. Tell their stories. Clare Franco, Shannon Mueller, Kaitlin Randolph, Taylor ffitch, Alison Smyth, Simone Childs-Walker, Katherine Wingert, Anna Prineas, Kelly Lovett, Kyla Walter, Megan Erlandson, Laura Roach, among so many others.
3. Treatise On The Body – For All Women
- Sleep! 7-8 hours per night, more if you need it. The night before the night before a race is the most important night for good sleep.
- Eat! Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Don’t skip meals.
- Take care of those who aren’t eating. Love them, tell them you care, and understand that sometimes they won’t want to change, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on them.
- My thoughts on nudity: You should love your body! Celebrate its eccentricities and the way it breaks from what society tells you it should be. Carleton embraces this. As long as you’re not infringing upon someone else, I see no reason why you cannot love your body as it was given to you. Go free in the locker room. Take a mile at night with your teammates. Note the aspects of your body that you love, and don’t be ashamed to take pride in them.
- My thoughts on alcohol: I waited until I was 21 to drink, not because of fear of the law but because of my fear of losing control. I learned that alcohol is not evil and that it can be enjoyed in moderation. Whether you choose to drink or not, I hope you take my lesson to heart. College is full of wonderful spontaneous moments that you’re going to want to remember for the rest of your life. So go out as if you are going to remember. Be smart. Your body is a temple. My desire is that the team would adopt a philosophy of prohibition at least a month before important competitions, whatever that means to you personally.
4. Treatise On Relationships and the Team – Friendship and Spicy Spice
- I am always amazed by how much the team supports my outside endeavors, whether they’re related to my campus job, my academics, or my personal projects. Don’t be shy. Share other aspects of your life with your teammates.
- Donna and Laura care immensely about each and every one of you, and they worry about you way more than you know.
- Hug your teammates when they cry.
- Talking about track and field can be kind of like speaking a foreign language. You’ll learn that people far and wide can speak it as well.
- Maintain contact with your good friends outside of Carleton, but never forsake a fun group activity here for a long-distance conversation.
- Have good friends outside of the team. They will help you when the team goes through stuff, as it inevitably will.
- My thoughts on inter-team romantic relationships of varying degrees of commitment: The team is SO small. There is no need to rush into anything, no need to go crazy. Know that even relatively tame people will be connected in surprising ways come your senior year. That being said, no one will understand your commitment to the team quite like someone going through the same experience.
- My thoughts on romantic relationships outside of the team: If it’s official, you better introduce us! This can be tough, but also a breath of fresh air. Some men say this is next to impossible, but the women’s team seems to be pretty good at it.
- My thoughts on Oles: In theory, they would be a great dating pool, but they’re either already taken or married to God. (Also some of them smoke, which is really gross.) They are fun to antagonize, however, and it can be really beneficial and refreshing to be casual friends with them.
- You should try to befriend an Ole that you compete against. Or a Bennie. Or anyone that you’re always neck-and-neck with. Take time to shake hands and chat at the finish line. I really wouldn’t bother trying with the Tommies.
- One night, have a conversation with someone you care about while sitting at the top of Stadium.
- Ask your teammates about their personal lives. They don’t have to tell you anything, but they might be flattered that you asked. I wish I would have asked sooner and more often.
I love you all very much. You all have changed my life in ways you can’t even imagine. I am so grateful, and so blessed.
Work it and spank it,