College Decisions

I hear that senioritis is pretty bad this year. I’m sure a lot of you are ready to be off on your own making your own decisions and livin’ it up in college. You should be excited- college is awesome! Deciding where you want to spend the next 4 (or 5 haha) years of your life can be very exciting but it can also be pretty stressful. Your choice will impact the people you meet, the experiences you have, and the opportunities you have later in life. It’s a big choice in your life and for a lot of people it can be a hard decision- and that’s ok! I was thankful to have people around me to talk with when I was deciding where to go so hopefully this video will start to answer some questions for you or bring up some points you haven’t thought of yet.

So, here are the main points:

No college is perfect. Was (or is, I guess, I’m still finishing undergrad this year) Baylor amazing for me? For sureeee! I made awesome friends for life (I just got off the phone with one of them who moved to North Carolina this year and we talked for over an hour), I had a ton of fun on the team traveling, working out, and hanging out with amazing teammates, I love my classes, my professors are some of the most incredible people in the world, and I grew so much as a person. I can’t imagine going anywhere else but Baylor, but does that mean that I wouldn’t have thrived at a different school? Nope. Who knows? I could have done just as well at a different college, I just chose Baylor so I ended up having Baylor experiences and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. That doesn’t mean college was easy; there were tons of low points in college, believe me! There were times I felt like giving up, times where I sat with friends crying and asking for advice, and many many times where I questioned God and what he was doing in my life. I promise you, wherever you go, you are going to have similar experiences. Just because you get to pick where you go does not mean that you will always be happy and never struggle. Really, your decision should be the place where you feel you will thrive the most. Which choice is the best place you can go where you will surround yourself with an atmosphere and people who can push you to be the best you that you can be? What resources are really important for you to have for you to be able to thrive? Would you thrive at a large school or somewhere smaller? Do you want a team that’s top ten in the nation or a team you could help build up to a top ten team? What personality are you coached best by? These are the questions you should be asking yourself. There may not be a “right” answer to them or a “right” answer of where you should go. As I get older and learn more, I see that many choices aren’t black and white. There may be a couple places you would thrive at. In the end, choosing the “right” college isn’t as important as your attitude and how you apply yourself once you get there. Hopefully that gives you some comfort. As long as you choose somewhere you feel you can be pushed and grow, the rest is up to your attitude and ability to apply yourself the next couple years. Essentially when you choose a college, you are choosing the resources you want to help you grow into a better person.

Before you go on visits, make a list of what you want and ask yourself why you want those things. You may find you don’t want what you think you do. For example, you could see a team at nationals on the podium and think that you want to go to a school with a really great team, but after thinking about it and asking yourself why that is so important, you may realize that when looking at that team, you were thinking about how close and happy they looked together. Maybe, instead of wanting to be on a team that’s super successful, you really desire to be on a close knit team. So instead of looking at top ten teams, you may want to look at teams who seem to be close to one another. Or maybe both success and a close-knit team are important for you; your choices would narrow even more. Again, you won’t find a perfect school but keep asking yourself: What would push me more and make me the best person that I can be?

After going on college visits, look again at the pros and cons of the school and think about what’s most important for you. Look at everything, not just athletics. Would you go there even if you weren’t running? That’s a very important question because there may be a time (hopefully not) where you are injured, you may red shirt a season, or you may be in between cross and track seasons. Will you still love the school despite whatever is going on athletically? After visits is also a great time to talk with coaches, parents, or anyone else you trust to help make a decision. Sometimes people can see things from an outside view that you can’t see as clearly or they may be able to see where you would fit in better. I definitely talked a ton with my coach and parents when I was making my decision and it helped a LOT!

Those are some of the things I think could help when you’re choosing where to go. I also think there are a couple of things you should NOT do while you are choosing a college. One of those is following people, whether that is a friend or group of friends, significant other, or family member. This is for a couple of reasons: 1) A place that’s right for one person may not be right for you. It’s YOUR choice, not theirs. 2) If you hate the place and chose it because you were following someone, you could end up resenting the person you were following, maybe even sub consciously, which will strain your relationship. If they really care about you, they will want you to be happy and have a good experience even if you’re not in the same place and if they really REALLY care about you, they will want to keep up your relationship from farther away. If they don’t care about you enough to let you choose the place you will thrive most at, how healthy and supportive are they for you? Another thing not to do is let other people decide where you should go to college. You are becoming an adult and that means you get to make decisions on your own. Choosing a college is probably one of your first big decisions to make. That is awesome, it’s some freedom and probably the best graduation present ever! Be proud of that, own it, and choose for yourself. Also remember: You have the power to explain to someone who is pushing you to a certain place that this decision is going to effect you, not them, and that you want to go to the place you feel like you would do best at. That doesn’t mean that other people’s advice isn’t valuable (it definitely is and I hope you talk with others about your decision like I suggested above) but make sure this advice is unselfish and from someone who truly wants you to become the most amazing version of you.

I repeated this a couple times in this post but I need to say it again because I think it is so important: In choosing a college, you are choosing where YOU are going to thrive and become the best version of you academically, athletically, psychologically and spiritually. You are choosing the resources and place you can best achieve this at. This is an exciting time! Think about it, pray about it, talk to others about it, and enjoy the freedom you have in the choice. After you decide where you’re going, the work isn’t over. Now it’s up to your attitude and application. You got to decide where you wanted to go and now you get to thrive and become the incredible person you were meant to be! It won’t be easy, in fact I promise that you will have some hard times in college but these will shape you into that incredible person I was talking about you becoming. In writing this, I’ve seriously become excited for all of you choosing a college. You are embarking on an amazing journey so believe in yourself and get excited for the tremendous adventures ahead!

Mileage and Intensity

Someone asked the question: Do you think mileage or intensity is more important in training? Press that play button and find out!

Extra Information:

First of all, why do we even need to increase mileage or intensity??? Because of two principles: The principle of specificity (training for what you are competing for; swimmers swim, sprinters sprint, and long distance runners run long) and the principle of overload (when your body undergoes stress that it is not accustomed to, it is “overloaded” and makes adjustments to make it stronger). These are just a few ways your body adjusts physically after you “overload” it:

  1. Faster transition from rest to steady-state in exercise (typically, your heart rate increases rapidly at the beginning of exercise and then levels off after a few minutes. The faster you can get to the “leveling off” of your heart rate, the less work you will have to do and more energy can be saved for later on in the race)
  2. Neural changes in muscles (your body “remembers” the running movement and you become more efficient over time. This is a large reason why someone would want to increase mileage and also why we do easy runs on recovery days, our body needs to recover from a hard workout so the pace is slower it still registers that running movement. This is also why it feels weird running the first day or couple of days you start running after an injury or break, you just have to re-teach your body the running movement. Breaks are still awesome and needed and luckily the more your body does a movement the faster it will remember it after a break.)
  3. Reduced reliance on glycogen stores (Carbs are awesome! They are the stored in the liver as glycogen and are the main source of energy for your runs. If your glycogen stores are depleted, you run very low on energy and your body starts using fat for fuel. Training will reduce your reliance on glycogen stores and you will be able to use fat for fuel more efficiently. You will still use your glycogen stores but they will not be depleted as quickly so you will have more energy)
  4. Larger stroke volume (stroke volume is the amount of blood pumped out of the heart in one beat. Stroke volume increases as training is more intense and the body adapts meaning that you can pump more blood out of your heart in one beat to oxygenate your muscles and make them move so your heart does not need to pump as quickly as before. That’s why runners have very slow heart rates a lot of the time compared to non runners)

So basically, I believe both mileage AND intensity will help you become a better runner. One is not more important than the other, you need both to be successful in this sport. It’s kind of like asking a basketball player if working on shooting or dribbling is more important. Both are important, if you can’t dribble you won’t get the ball down to your side but if you can’t shoot then what is the point of dribbling? Likewise, if you can run for a really long time but don’t have much speed, you could get to the end of the race and get outkicked or if you have tons of speed you could get ahead at the beginning but not be able to finish the race.

Train for what you are racing! If you are a long distance runner, mileage is veryyyy important and speed should be the icing on the cake that you use at the end of the season after running good mileage and having a good base filled with tempo runs, progression runs, fartleks, an hills. If you’re more of an 800 runner, speed can be emphasized a lot more (as long as you’re not training for cross country).

I came up with a few guidelines for increasing mileage and/or intensity

  • Don’t increase mileage and intensity too fast at the same time
    • Why? Hugeeee chance of injury. Work on either one or the other or, if you need to increase both, do it superrrr slowlyyyyy. A good rule of thumb is to increase by 10% of your mileage a week (if you’re at 30 miles a week, increase about 3 miles a week, 40 miles would be an increase of 4 etc). Let your body tell you how to increase intensity, if you’re really really tired to the point that even easy days are hard to run, be ok with taking a day off, crosstrain, or take a couple really easy days (it will be ok I promise!). Work with your coach and keep a training log so you can see how you have recovered from different workouts in the past.
  • Put more of an emphasis on recovery when you increase mileage or intensity
    • As you run longer and run more intense workouts, you use more energy and your muscles are worked and stretched harder. Recovery now becomes your best friend in the world! That means more ice baths, rolling out, stretching, and eating more so you have energy and can recover for the next workout.
  • If you want to increase intensity, don’t turn easy days into hard or medium effort days
    • Why? Because you won’t be able to recover from a super hard workout if you go hard on easy days. Run easy days at a pace where you can easily carry on a conversation with someone. These days should be fun days! You could explore different areas of the city, get lost in thought, or enjoy conversations with friends. Some of my favorite times with friends have happened on easy runs. My sister isn’t a runner but in high school sometimes she would bike next to me on runs. Sometimes my friends would go to an area where a ton of people were running and count how many people would tell us good morning ( I think 57 was our record, try to beat it!).

What has my mileage/intensity looked like over the years?

  • Elementary school: No training, just fun 5k races with my awesome dad
  • Middle school: Whatever we did at track practice at school, probably not over 10-15 miles a week. Sometimes I would go out on a 3 or 4 mile run Saturdays if I felt like it but training definitely wasn’t intense.
  • Freshman year of high school: Probably around 20-25 miles a week. I had no idea how to train so I just did what my high school coach told me. We ran a longer 6 mile run once a week, then ran about 3-4 miles the rest of the days. We would usually take Fridays off, race Saturday, and take Sundays off. Sometimes I would run a couple miles on Sundays just because I liked running but I really didn’t know how to train. We took off from the end of cross country until track started (about a month or month and a half), I wouldn’t recommend that because I came back for track in the same shape I came into cross country with and got frustrated because of that. Breaks are great and you NEED them but after about 2 weeks you really start loosing fitness so try to limit your breaks and don’t take a month and a half off from running (unless you’re injured). Mileage for track was the same as cross country, then I got serious about wanting to be good at this sport.
  • Sophomore year: during the summer, I trained with our guys team. We would meet up and run most days of the week (probably about 4-5 miles a day). One of the captains, Jeff, really pushed me and about twice a week we would run the last mile of our run as fast as I could go. This was when I found out what it feels like to push hard in a workout. I felt like I was going to die at the end of the mile but Jeff encouraged me and pushed me to new limits (so thanks Jeff!). Towards the end of the summer we started running 2 or 3 mile tempo runs so intensity increased. During cross my mileage was about 30-35 miles a week). That cross season, all those intense miles Jeff forced me to run paid off and I made it to state! In between cross and track, I decided to join the Dallas Metroplex Striders. Intensity was increased as well as mileage, but Terry (my amazing coach then and my amazing coach NOW!) used the 10% rule and increased my mileage slowly and worked to move intensity up slowly. I worked up to about 40 miles a week with 4 mile tempo runs, long runs, fartleks, hills, and intervals added into my training. That year, I went from not even top 20 in cross country to 5th in the 3200 and 2nd in the 1600 at the state track meet
  • Junior year: mileage increased once again to about 45 miles. I got used to Terry’s training and was able to increase intensity a little as well. I had been running for about a year and a half without a month and a half long break so I kept getting stronger. During cross country, I was 2nd in state cross, got 6th at NXN, and 11th at Footlocker. In track, I won state in the 3200 and 1600.
  • Senior year: mileage increase again to about 50 miles a week. Intensity increased as I was able to handle harder workouts. I won the state cross title, was the NXN champion, and was runner-up at Footlocker. I tore my LCL which forced me to take a break for a month but I came back and got 2nd in the 3200 in state track
  • College: 55 miles a week freshman year, 60 sophomore, 65-70 junior year, then 70-75 senior year. I had a hard adjustment to college training and racing but was able to stay injury free and made good progression my junior and senior year.
  • Now: about 75-80 miles a week, intensity increase as well so I’m working on how to recover better from workouts.

So summary of all that: I increased mileage about 5-10 miles a year and slowly increased intensity each year. Make sure you pay attention to how many miles you put on your shoes so you know when to get new ones (ASICS are the best haha)

Did I supplement mileage in high school or do mileage outside of school?

  • I did! Freshman year and the beginning of Sophomore year I would run on the weekends if I felt like running but this was more for fun just because I enjoyed running, not necessarily for training purposes. After I joined the striders, my school coach worked well with me so I was able to run my club team workouts instead of my school workouts. That’s pretty rare to find in a high school coach so I was lucky! Try not to run what my coach Terry calls “junk mileage” which is just going out for a couple mile run to make it to a certain mileage for the week or running a second run when you’re super tired just to say you got in a second run, these miles won’t really benefit you and may end up hurting you instead (you won’t be able to recover for later runs). Doubles are not a bad thing if you have built up to them but make sure there is a point to your double and you’re feeling good enough to run again.

Hope this helps! Comment with any other questions you have and remember to have fun out there because this is an awesome sport!

Intro Video

Super excited to start a mentoring/advice series for high schoolers (or anyone who wants to hear me talk about running). Hopefully this first video will give you an idea of who I am and why I love running!

Like I said in the video, asking questions is how you will grow so ask away!! No question is a dumb question, there was a point in my life where I had absolutely no idea what this sport was and I only got better from listening to other runners and learning from them. Maybe you can’t think of a question but there’s a topic you want me to cover so comment and let me know about that too. Thanks for watching, get after it and run the world :)