HOW TO CHOOSE A TRAINING GROUP/COLLEGE TEAM
I get this a lot question a lot. And considering I just make serious life decisions all willy nilly and this has seemed to work out, I think this makes me an expert in helping you make life changing decisions!
Answer these simple questions. And don’t answer them with how you want to be, answer them with how you actually are. For example, I want to enjoy really deep movies, but I don’t. I enjoy those crappy, superficial, mind numbing movies. Like 28 weeks later. And this is embarrassing for me when people are all like: Hey Phoebe. What did you think about the character development in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly? And I have to say: Well. I fell asleep for the middle hour and a half. And then turned on Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
But I know this, and have accepted it, and now excuse myself from any super deep movies. Especially ones with subtitles.
1. Do you want a training partners?
Really think about this! There are serious perks to training solo. You get a guaranteed individualized training plan. You can tailor workouts to how you feel. You get one-on-one time with a coach. You don’t have to worry about your ego being destroyed on days you don’t feel well. If this is you, that’s great! You want to choose a team that lacks people in your event specialty.
Personally I find that being on a team is awesome. Mostly because I am an emotional basketcase solo. I can make a 6 minute mile feel hard without people to witness said mile. I need bodies around me to keep me relaxed. Not only that, but who the heck would I talk to during the day if I didn’t have teammates? I’d probably be at home, alone, discussing religion and politics with my dog. If this is you, that’s great! You want to choose a team where there are other people with your stats or stats slightly better than yours.
2. Do you jive with the team?
There are two times in your life where you get to choose your family. The first: Marriage. The second: Your team. Could you spend weeks with them talking about your deepest secrets in between games of Charades? These people become your lifelong friends. Most college kids have college friends. And then the college friends turn into college memories. In running, these college friends turn into your adult friends. The type of adult friends that you tell your deep dark secrets to in between games of charades.
3. Do you jive with the coach?
Your coach not only is going to (hopefully) make you ridiculously fast, but they are going to be with you as you grow up. Running exposes all your personality weaknesses. It forces you to be patient--mostly by being incredibly frustrating at times. It forces you to let go of that intense ego of yours. You coach is your personal cheerleader and advisor during this process.
Also, coaches see it all. So you have to be comfortable enough to have really embarrassing and/or hard conversations with them. Like, “Hey coach. I am having explosive diarrhea, and need to miss today’s practice.” Or “Hey coach. I got mad at Sally, and punched her in the face in my emotional rage.” They see you at your best and worst. So make sure it’s someone you are okay with doing that.
4. Do you believe in the training system?
Hey! If you believe doing 1000 pushups is the key to success and your coach thinks that doing one pushup would lead to your demise as a runner, you should probably reconsider that plan.
5. The environment.
Most of the environment is dictated by your coach and training partners. But the other part of the environment, i.e. the trails, the track, the facilities, the training room, the city, and the weather, should be taken into consideration. Do you hate cold winters and treadmills? Minnesota might not be your jam. Do you have one of those bodies that in hot humid climates shrivel in dehydration while you run geriatric pace? Florida will probably be your mortal enemy.
Quick list of questions to ask on a recruiting visit!
1. Where do you run?
2. What is a typical day like?
3. Are a lot of people on your team injured? If "yes" ßRED FLAG
4. Do you hang out a lot outside of practice?
5. Do you train together as a team?
6. Do you get along with your coach? If the majority says “no”, ßRED FLAG
7. What are the coach’s training philosophies?
8. Why do you think I would be a good addition to this team?
9. How bad is the winter/summer?
10. What are your interests outside of running?