What is an Elite and How Does It Relate to High School?

Hi New Hampshire!

I am new to the New Hampshire XC world, but my name is Patrick Peterson and I am a professional athlete for Atlanta Track Club. I run the 800m and soon to be the mile as well. In college I ran for Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut and Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. I was an NCAA All American while at Iowa state and have since finished 6th and 10th at US Nationals. I am currently training for the upcoming Olympic Trials.

Now that you know a little more about me, let’s dive right in to what I am here for. Nowadays everyone is on Instagram and Twitter and follows all of the best athletes. You look up to them and aspire to be just like them, but what does it take? My best advice to give you is it doesn’t happen overnight. Rarely do athletes go from high-school straight into the professional world, and even if they do there is typically a transition period to adapt. It takes years of consistency and belief that you will get there.

Belief is the important thing. If you believe that you are going to do something, you will need to work towards it with the certainty that you can attain it. I was never a high-school state champion, I went to a small college with a small team, but I knew there was more there. I knew that I could be an All American. I knew that I could run faster, so I worked at that until I made it a reality. I wasn’t given a scholarship to a big school. I didn’t get recruited out of high school. Instead I just made what I believed into reality with the situation I was given.  If you don’t believe in yourself, you won’t take the initiative to go to bed before a meet and you won’t take the time to cool down and stretch after workouts (this is actually the worst and I hate cool downs). Believing in yourself not only gives you more confidence, it helps you hold yourself accountable.

This phases me into the next step, accountability. Nobody is perfect. I am considered an elite, and I make mistakes all the time. The important thing is that I try my best to do what I am supposed to do for running. For me, running comes first. If I have to consider hanging out with my friends or getting enough sleep it is an easy choice for me. If I have to decide between eating a huge, delicious, healthy breakfast, or getting sick over a fat stack of pancakes, it is an easy choice. Being a better athlete is an accumulation of little choices that you make consistently and about getting the job done. Getting out the door to do the run that your coach gave you in the off season or doing the core and lifting are all important. Little steps lead to big jumps.

The last, and I personally think is the most important part, having trust in your coach.  A coach is someone who is there to help you. They are not trying to make you run slower, they are not trying to hold you back. You may see other teams doing something different, hear about different workouts, see other peoples results and think oh man we could be doing that. That doubt in what you are doing is a huge hindrance to being you best. Coaches have countless resources to learn about workouts and create the proper training program, and yes there is some trial and error, but that is part of the sport.  Every athlete is different, and needs different things to stimulate their body to run the fastest possible.  Your coach is trying to figure out what works for you. If you don’t believe in them and trust them to do the best for you, you will struggle to gain from their insights on training. I have spent years thinking, “Oh I did this before and that worked, I should do it again.” That is just not believing in what my coach, who is 10 times smarter than I am, is having me do, so I am not fully invested. If you ever have those thoughts or are unsure of why you are doing specific workouts, ASK YOUR COACH. This communication will not only help them understand where you are mentally, it will help you grow in the understanding of our beloved sport.

So as I wrap this up, believe, believe, believe. Believe in yourself, believe in your coach, and work hard. Hard work is what leads to running fast. No one got there any other way that putting their head down and working. Work hard, believe in what you are doing and run with confidence.

Until next time!

NHCC Note: Partick has PRs of 1:47.68 in the 800 and is currently a 4:01 miler with a PR of 3:42.48 in the 1500.  While he is an elite athlete for the Atlanta Track Club, he is also on their coaching staff working primarily with middle school athletes.   We thank Patrick for his willingness to share his experiences and what he has learned from them!

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