March Madness is in full swing, which means TV in recent weeks has been dominated by NCAA basketball. And sandwiched between the onslaught of exciting bracket-busting action there are NCAA commercials. Maybe you’ve seen them: soccer players juggling while playing violin, basketball players dribbling while carrying out chemical reactions, swimmers transforming into photographers while emerging from the water, tennis players donning work boots mid-swing. Each commercial is narrated with a version of the same line: “There are over 400,000 NCAA student-athletes, and almost all of us are going pro in something other than sports.” Count me among them. But that doesn’t mean I’m not still chasing my running dreams.
The best adjective I have to describe my life is “busy.” My current “something other than sports” occupation is as a PhD student in physiology, which means that I have a to-do list that is perpetually growing and there is no such thing as a “typical” day at work. When I’m not in the lab, I can likely be found eating, sleeping, or training. I have learned that flexibility is critical for my training to be effective. Though I don’t have a fixed time of day for my workouts, I do have a schedule of runs and strength training that I follow over a course of weeks and months. Sometimes the schedule has to be adjusted due to my work (spending all day on my feet doing experiments is not conducive to a good track workout) or the wonderfully-unpredictable Colorado weather (when the wind severe is enough to blow soccer goals over and onto the track I am forced to re-think those 400-meter repeats). But I have found that if I approach my training with a longer-term perspective, I am able to train at a high level while balancing my academic obligations.
Over the past several years, my running aspirations have transformed enormously. Upon completing my college career, I was less than satisfied, but ready just to run with no expectations. I did long, slow trail runs in the mountains and didn’t even think about getting near a track, let alone a race. Eventually, my competitive spirit re-surfaced, along with a desire to push my limits and discover my potential. And hence my graduate student-athlete lifestyle emerged. In choosing this lifestyle, I may be missing out on things like happy hour, watching TV, and pulling all-nighters. But I think it’s worth the sacrifice…
I may not be a professional athlete, but I am nevertheless incredibly thankful to be able to pursue my running ambitions post-collegiately (and thanks to BRC/adidas for the support!). The past year has been marked with several amazing running moments, and I am excited to keep training and see what the next few years will bring.