After an unanticipated break from real life due to a minor bout with mono, I am rejoining the world of the living, and therefore back to my blog. It's been a while since anyone's heard from me on this site (oops), so I'd just like to take a moment to thank everyone who responded to my last blog with their support and well-wishes for my friend, her family, and everyone here who was affected by her loss. The Tufts community is really an exceptional group of people, and I believe now more than ever that there is no college I'd be happier attending.
But now its time to turn my attention back to the one topic I really understand. Let's talk about running. Honestly, I'm surprised by how little I mention running on this blog compared with how often I talk about it in real life. I want this particular post to be a resource for anyone coming to Tufts (or just thinking about Tufts) who isn't sure if they want to continue playing/running/swimming/rowing/etc. in college. I applied to colleges absolutely certain that I wanted to keep running. I've been racing competitively since I was 11 years old and I knew I wanted that to remain in my life. As senior year wound down and I decided on Tufts, I wasn't so sure about that decision anymore. The decision to be a student athlete in college, even at a DIII school, is a huge sacrifice. If you're considering walking on to a team next year, then hopefully this can help you out.
So let's talk about track, the team, the lifestyle, the people. Maybe want to run next year, but you aren't absolutely sure? Let's talk about that, too. You definitely want to run next year but you're nervous that you're too slow? Trust me, that is my area of expertise right there. So let me tell you about running and about my wonderful team and why I think deciding to run in college was one of the better decisions I've ever made.
Running competitively requires a certain kind of lifestyle, and it's one that isn't the easiest to uphold. It requires you to put running above almost anything else. Sure you're a student-athlete (student first!), but when it's getting close to 2am and you know you have a hard workout the next day, the athlete in you is going to take over. It's not easy to balance every aspect of your life at college, and throwing a sport into the mix—especially a sport as consuming as cross country or track and field (or swimming, or rowing, or whatever else you do)—makes it really, really hard. But there is a reason why we do it, and if you're considering running/jumping/rowing/swimming/etc in college, then you know what those reasons are, no matter how hard they are to explain.
My life in high school was all about running. My best friends were my teammates and I loved them to death. A few of us had been racing together (and occasionally just to beat each other) since we were 11 years old. Coming to college meant that I had to accept that TUXC and TUTF would not be my high school team. The jokes would be different, and I would play a much different role. When you're leaving a program that made your life what it was, the idea of joining a new team and experiencing a new dynamic is hard to come to terms with. What if you don't love it the way you used to? What if it just isn't right?
Well, honestly, it is going to be different and weird and it takes some getting used, but it will still be the sport you fell in love with. Your teammates are still going to understand you in a way that your normal friends can't really comprehend. I love running for Tufts, and I loved running for my high school's team because I love to run and I love people who love to run. It's that simple, and if you do too, then you'll love us.
What I've found so far during my season and a half with this team is that it is a supportive, welcoming, positive group to be a part of. My teammates are extraordinary and I haven't regretted joining the team for an instant. I came into the program nervous, well aware that I don't posses the same level of talent that a lot of my teammates have. I've never felt that I'm being judged by my speed or unwelcome on the team because I'll probably never race in the top 7. I feel completely and totally accepted by my teammates, and when the girls welcomed me back after I had to take three weeks off because of mono, I couldn't doubt their sincerity.
Coming to college, you get a chance to build a new life. It made sense for me to build cross country and track into mine. I feel right being a runner. It makes sense to me. I feel strong, and healthy, and better for it. I love the feeling of being a student-athlete. Even if I'm racing badly, I'm able to tell myself that I'm still doing this collegiality, and that is so much more than most people.
Hopefully, this can help anyone who was on the fence about their sport. Feel free to comment if you have any concerns/questions, or email me if you want to talk further. The decision to do a sport in college is a huge one, and I hope I can help you make it as easy as possible.