#1: A Fresh Start
Just like with almost anyone else, moving into college caused a change in essentially everything I did. Talking to the wiser and more experienced upperclassmen on the team, you come to notice that just a change in intensity of running or school is quite easy to adapt to, but the lifestyle and environmental change is what makes it challenging, although always incredibly fun.
Hearing stories of mileage my coaches from Londonderry experienced in college seemed pretty crazy, and when I was out from February until July with a stress fracture in my foot, those looming workouts certainly sounded scary. But looking back on it, they really shouldn’t have been. I was really hurt for the first time in 7 years of running, but the following recovery and physical therapy made me much stronger, especially biomechanical. It was sort of a blessing in disguise, raising my ceiling and potential while lowering injury risk.
Coach Rinker at Northeastern was great understanding what my injury meant, and he gave me time to rest and slowly build up mileage. Yet this meant I was only really running by mid-July, and by the time I moved into school, I was only at 50 miles a week, which was ten less than last year. However, trust in the process is vital, and heading into the Battle of Beantown in Franklin Park, I was running over 60 miles a week again. All training aside, I got to see and race almost all the people I knew from high school as many of them are attending some incredible New England colleges. It was great to see everyone again, the camaraderie and competition was what I missed the most over the last 6 months.
I wasn’t supposed to race that race, none of us were actually. Our varsity decided to sit out the race as they were flying out to Minnesota in 7 days. So like many of the hard workouts, you gladly step up into the role and you just do it. Often, you do a lot better than you’d ever imagine. I loved my first taste of the 8k, it’s a long and grueling distance, but the two extra miles fit my second half racing well. Also I really like the course with its mix trail and field running. The hills are legitimate, but I’ve definitely raced harder ones in NH. I ran 26:42 at that meet after being healthy for 2 months.
Training is a lot different, entailing three workouts a week unless there is a race. The 14 or 15 mile long run is now a recovery day more or less. On Saturdays, we either race or run hills, which are hard to find in the middle of the city in Boston. Another workout each week is a fartlek, which gives you some speed change while getting in plenty of mileage. The last workout is either intervals, a tempo run, or both combined. These are 3-6 miles at 5:15-5:45 pace or so, which I never thought I could do, but it simply becomes normal after a while. These runs boost confidence being so close to race pace, and I’ve come close to PR’s a few times, funnily enough.
New England’s (college version) was a huge focus for our team this year, and unlike in high school, It’s in early October. We’ve had our best team in years, and winning was the clear goal. Varsity went off first, so it was hard to focus on warming up for our race. After getting that done, we had a great view of the end of the race. The top 10 go by, three Brown runners including Inter-Lake’s Cam Daly. But finally we see our singlet, actually 4 runners, wearing the red and black. That pack running is always a huge boost, and with our number 5 hanging back a bit, the outcome looked promising. But soon, the gun went off. It was my turn. A less elite field and a fast start made for tough middle miles, but I held on, had a good last 3k, and improved to a 26:32. We got the great news that varsity won by 11 points, and JV looked good as well. I’ve been lucky to always have a great team atmosphere, and that has continued here.
Another training block leads up to Conferences in Delaware, but now I know how doable my training is, and how well it benefits my racing, so finally I feel into the swing of things. I’ve been lucky enough to watch Londonderry race this year, and it’s always nice to appreciate the team, coaches, and competition that got me here. Also, how could I pass up free food?
-Cameron Dickson (Londonderry ’16, Northeastern University)