Our sport is one of transitions. We have to transition from HS to college and then, if we are fortunate enough, often from college to pro. Often times our success depends on mastering these transitions and making sure they go as smoothly as possible. Way back in the day, I had to make this transition, and failed miserably. I thought that because I was moving to college, I obviously had to work that much harder to make it to the next level.
I took my training from HS where I averaged around 75mpw, with an all time high of 100 to an average of closer to 95 with highs of 120 during my initial year in school. It turned into an unmitigated disaster, not solely because of the mileage increases, but also because I didn't realize the changes in the level of racing and the mental approach to it that was needed.
It's one of the reasons why, as a coach, I take so many precautions into making sure athletes I recruit to the program have a somewhat smooth transition. It's not always pretty, but we try to instill a long term approach with the athletes and I try to take the necessary steps to make sure that I do everything they can to adjust. This starts with a detailed training questionnaire and if they have it a running log analysis. The easiest thing we can do as coaches is to make sure the training isn't an abrupt change from what they had done.
I see it as the coaches job to bridge the gap between what was done in HS or with a previous coach and what your training philosophy is. The summer and early CC is a perfect time to make this transition. It doesn't matter if it is a HS runner or a professional runner, I always begin with this analysis. The goal is to keep what works, start to work on neglected parts of the training, and fill in the holes of what might be missing. We shouldn't just throw out everything and start a new. We can't figure out where to take them if we don't know where they've been.
But the point of this blog isn't to go over a detailed way to transition from HS to College or College to Pro. Instead, it's to collect data. I've always been curious about this phenomenon and I have plenty of theories what makes a smooth transition and what causes others to fail, but I want to see data to back it up.
So, if you ran in both HS and College, please take the time to fill out the below survey that will take 5 minutes. You will get generic questions on the training done during your HS and College days plus a small amount of injury/motivation analysis. The goal is to figure out why people have both good and bad transitions to the next level, and the more data we get, the better the picture becomes.
I will share the findings upon completion of the project.