My transition from Inter-Lakes to Brown XC has been smooth, but has taken a lot of effort. Last week I spent the week at preseason camp at a lake house in VT. I went from four years and all summer of setting the pace on every run to having to fight to not get dropped on a fartlek.
Besides the elevated pace and general intensity, I have had to learn to trust my teammates and coaches with my training and overall well being. Tuesday we did a 5 by mile workout on grass loops with a 200 meter “rest”, which in actuality was just the guys at the front backing off to 6:00 pace for 45 second before starting the next rep. Instead of setting the pace and checking splits I was instructed to ditch my watch and run mid-pack. All I was supposed to do was keep my head clear, focus on my teammate running in front of me, and the next 10 seconds ahead of me. I have learned a little how, and I will continue to learn, to go to that dark place in my head and just hang on to the people in front of me. 8k is a whole different animal.
As we were warming up for the workout at Goddard Park, I ran in the back of the pack and watched my teammates all mentally prepare for the workout in their own ways. I listened to the pitter patter of our trainers on the pavement and as I tried to focus on the next step and clear my head, I kept getting distracted. My mind continually wandered to how incredible it is that all 25 of these guys were metaphorically and literally running towards the same thing, a common goal and purpose. I guess that’s the most dramatic change from my high school program to college. Everyone feels as if they are an essential part of something much greater than themselves, which is pretty powerful.
I have also been adjusting to doing the little things to become a better athlete. Before and after practice we spend a lot of time rolling, stretching, doing strength, taking ice baths and working on our flexibility. (A lot of flexibility for me because I might have some steeple action this spring!)
I’ve been realizing being able to be a part of the New Hampshire running community over the past four years has prepared me for this next step. Everyone I ran with or against was equal parts competitive and supportive.