The Things You’ll Miss Most About Collegiate Track & Field

24 Sep

Every now and then I see a link to some bullshit “GIF-only” article about some corny topic.  Sometimes I get tagged in them and decide to just not comment and pretend that they don’t exist because that’s what people who rage against the system do.

But one did inspire me to write a new post which I guess is a good thing for me.  It was about “the best things about college athletics” or something like that, I don’t remember and don’t feel like linking.  It was filled with a bunch of things that never happened to me except like three of fifteen but it did get me thinking.

I’ve been out of college for nearly a year now.  We are coming up on one year of a bunch of “last” milestones for me and that’s kind of upsetting.  It’s been nearly two years since my last track and field race (I was injured my senior year) and now we are coming up on a year since I was done with cross country.

That is kind of upsetting.  I did have the benefit of boosting my resume for volunteer coaching, which was a fun experience all jokes aside, but competition wise?  It’s all gone.

So here are the things that you, the student-athlete who can’t wait for that random day off of training, will miss when you graduate.  For people who didn’t do track and field; well…..pretend it relates to you.

Being In Shape

I run about 4 miles a day.  Sometimes 3, sometimes 5.  For a 23-year old that lives off of Big Macs, Dr. Pepper and the cheapest 24 oz beer I can find (GENNY CREAMMMMMMMM); I’m in pretty good shape.  I know plenty of people my age that can’t run one 7:00 minute mile let alone a couple in a row.

But when you run, you will ALWAYS compare yourself to your previous self.  I looked back at my running log and saw a 14-mile run done at 6:43 pace.  For runners better than me, that’s no big deal but now I look back at myself and just go “shit, I was a beast….well for being a 6’0 pale kid who looks mildly malnourished”.

For shits and giggles, I was thrown into our “alumni team” for my alma mater’s home cross country meet.  I opened up in a 6:10 mile and I felt like I was going to die.  I have opened up in SUB-5 minute miles before and now I can’t even do my workout pace for a fucking mile.  For some people, that’s a motivator.  For me, that’s FUCK THIS SHIT.

Now I see why people do fake sports like CrossFit, Mud Runs or DoucheNozzle.  It’s something you can’t judge yourself off of since it’s all new and gimmicky.

But you will do anything to be your old self if you are lazy and unmotivated.  Even if you are in top shape, you are always missing that edge.  I kept in pretty good shape for about three months after graduating but you just aren’t you.

This summer I lived in Kutztown and ran Rod and Gun once and all I could think about was how much I lived for it.  I hated the hills, I hated the roads, I hated the feeling at about Mile 5….but god I loved it.

Team

I never ran for myself.  I kind of HATE running.  I love everything about it, but the act of it?  Low on the things I enjoy.  The only thing that really drove me was being part of something and not wanting to let down my coaches, my teammates and my family.

However when you are away from the team, you kind of lose yourself.  Most alumni at one point or another go off the deep end for a bit and I guess it’s my turn.  You end up cocky as hell when you graduate because you set yourself up as “OH THEY’LL MISS ME WHEN I’M GONE AND I’LL BE A KING FOR A DAY” until you realize that you are an idiot.  It’s not that they don’t care or miss you, it’s just….”YO DUDE WE’RE FRIENDS!”.

The team aspect is what really drove me.  I HATE the word “family”.  Instead though we were us.  That to me is so much more special.  No one can take away what it’s like to die in the heat, to freeze in the cold, to survive the workout and go through everything else together.  We, no matter how much you may or may not like the person next to you, those runs happened.

I’ll use a couple examples.  Brad was/is a good friend.  We lived together but we were a year or so apart in age.  Brad was a mid-distance guy and I was more of a “tweener”.  However, all of the best workouts I ever had was with Brad because our styles just complimented each other well.  I had various workout buddies and the best ones are the ones you never expect.  It’s great to find contrast.

Anthony was probably my best friend.  We were similar but we didn’t exactly workout the best together because well, we were too tight probably.  Jake and I worked out well together as well, but the dude could run a workout perfectly by himself or in a group of 10000.  Steve is the worst person in history (miss ya bud).

Drama

Someone gets on the wrong side of coach.  Someone ends up a team cancer.  Someone dates another teammate.  Someone really hates someone else and no one knows what to do.

You will miss all that shit.  You will miss getting screamed at.  Trust me, your coach (unless you are a shithead and deserve it) might yell at you but you always have the chance to be better.  Things might get lost in translation but for the most part, something is off.  In the real world, you get fired instead and end up unemployed, beaten down, bruised and writing a blog.

The people who you hate now on your team, and there’s always a couple, will be funny memories in two years.  You will learn to appreciate who they were even if they pissed you off.  I’ve had teammates get in trouble, ignore us, hate us, get cut from the team or even leave us shorthanded.  Now every single one of those is just hilarious.

Practice

The fact that it’s 3:53 now means I know exactly what’s happening.  It’s Wednesday so it’s likely a long run.  I’m willing to bet they did Caves and right now they are nearing the hill.  Maybe they did Crystal and are approaching the humpback hill.  Someone definitely suggested Topton or Pretzel Rod and were shut down.  There’s a couple people who took off early and there’s a couple who are really waiting for a piss break or stretch right about now.

You will, for the rest of your life, see 3:15 or 3:30 and know exactly what’s going on.  Then you realize that the importance of that is gone.

Meets

There are no pickup track meets.  You don’t get a group of guys who go “hey, let’s compete!” and do a Sandlot version of a track & field meet.  You will miss waking up too early, waiting all day for the 5k and everyone being pissed off at you because they just want to watch the 4×4.

Off Days

Scheduled days off are the best.  It’s awesome.  The best is when you get a week or so off in-between seasons and you always make big plans that never happen.  “DUDE we have two weeks off!  Let’s go to Infinnito’s each night and enter the NASA training program”.  We get so ambitious when we get off but instead we just sleep and actually do homework.

Scheduled days off are now called “holidays”.  There’s like only seven a year and three of them are smashed together at the end of the year.

What do you miss?

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