I’ll be giving a talk tomorrow to the members of my old track club. Together with my coach Dave Scott-Thomas and fellow Speed River athlete Anthony Romaniw, we’ve been asked to talk about the recruiting process, give an update on our current training, and offer some advice for the young athletes at the club. Personally, I’m pretty excited about the opportunity to share some of the lessons I’ve learned over the past few years. Since I imagine we’ll focus mainly on our experiences in high school, the NCAA, CIS, and now post-collegiate racing, I want to share some of the advice I’ve come up with incase I don’t have time for it tomorrow.
Some Things I wish I knew As A High Schooler:
- Set short-term realistic goals rather than one, big, long-term goal: This is something I learned the hard way this year. Around a year ago, I came up with the goal to qualify for the Commonwealth games. After the indoor season, things were looking good, but I was also dealing with an achilles injury. Instead of setting a short-term goal to get healthy and make sure my achilles got better, I was obsessed with my long-term goal of hitting the standard to make the team. Long story short, my achilles never got better, and I was unable to qualify. Long term goals are great, but short-term mini goals can often accomplish much more.
- Focus on the process and not the outcome: In grade 10, I became obsessed with breaking 4 minutes in the 1500m. I was doing workouts that indicated I could break 4, but it took forever for it to happen. I’d go into every race, regardless of how small or how weak the competition, wanting to run fast. I ran between 4:00 and 4:05 fifteen times before I finally went 3:56 at OFSAA in grade 11. It was really easy to look at the times from those bad days and get down on myself. I learned instead to focus on giving it your all in training every day, take confidence from good workouts, and the results will come.
- Consistency is key: In high school, I thought that if I gave 100% in a workout on Monday, I earned the right to take the next day off. What I learned in University is that it’s much better to give 80% every day rather than 100% a few times a week. The best way to get better is to put together several back to back days, weeks, and months of consistent training. Having one all-out workout at the beginning of the week followed by several throw-away easy days isn’t the most effective approach in the long term.
- School Comes First: I know it’s cliché, but don’t forget about doing well in school. I made the mistake of taking the bare minimum amount of classes in high school in order to get my degree. While I enjoyed skating by in grade 12 with easy classes, I got to Notre Dame and they made me take a calculus class as a prerequisite to get into the business school. Since I had only taken a basic stats class in high school, I was super underprepared for that University level calc class, and had to switch majors because of it. Don’t take shortcuts, because more often than not, you’ll end up at a disadvantage in the long term.
- Have fun. I’ve made some of my best friends through running. In high school, I’d chat with runners from across the province and we’d set up big family dinners for after OFSAA meets and AO meets. We also had this tradition where after cross-country meets, we’d find a local track, make teams, and have a big 4x100m relay race. Some of the friends I made at these dinners and events continue to be my best friends today. Don’t get too caught up in the training and pressure from racing. Learn to let loose a bit, make friends, and realize that running track is a privilege and shouldn’t be taken for granted.