Ever since I took up competitive running I’ve planned to one day run professionally. Unlike some runners who leave college with last minute thoughts, “Hmm maybe I should continue competing?” I’ve alwaysconsidered in a no-brainer, so long as I stayed healthy.
When I say I planned to continue competing, I don’t just mean I hoped I’d somehow get that opportunity; instead I actively planned for it. You see, running professionally isn’t like other pro sports; there are no leagues or draft picks, so its up to the runner where and how they will train. Some runners prefer to stay with their college coaches, but for me that wasn’t an option since my former coach prefers to only coach her collegiate athletes. Other runners go on to join a professional track club, while others choose their H.S. coaches or decide to coach themselves. Then there’s the decision of where to train. Some head out west and seek high-altitude, others mimic that by sleeping in altitude chambers; some prefer hot weather and some prefer cool.
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With all of these options, you can only imagine the anxiety of an indecisive runner like me as I spent the last year or two considering where I would go to continue my training!
It was a tough decision, a lot like going through the whole college recruiting process again. I think I talked a few coaches ears off, but that’s just how I am about these things. I had a whole file folder of information on different clubs and coaches and went to an RRCA camp called “Run Pro” where I learned the ins-and-outs of what to expect of my new “profession.” I wanted to make sure I considered all my options and had a strong list of pros and cons when considering my individual needs.
Beyond all of that, I made sure to take the time to really pray about it. I wanted to make sure wherever I went that it was God’s will for me to be there. It’s not easy knowing you have to pick up everything and move somewhere new for your training, and knowing its up to you to decide where that will be. I kept expecting to have some kind of monumental sign show up saying, “This is it! This is where you are meant to go next!”
Well, that didn’t exactly happen. In fact, I’m here to tell anyone who’s going through a major decision process NOT to expect that kind of thing. Instead, through lots of prayer and planning I finally realized something; God doesn’t always speak to us with the kind of visual clarity we expect. Sometimes we just have to do a little bit of exploring and trust that where we end up is where we are meant to be. That’s where faith comes into play. After spending the last year or so wondering and worrying what I was going to do next, I finally came to this realization:
I think I’ve been spending way too much time trying to figure out if wherever I am going is exactly where God wants me to be. Instead I should have been paying closer attention to the little things He’s been nudging me to do day-to-day, which I sometimes ignore. In other words, I think we all imagine that being willing to follow God means we have to do some huge thing, or decipher His master plans in order to follow them; but actually, if in our hearts we are willing to be obedient every minute of the day, then I believe the bigger picture will already take care of itself, and He will guide us.
At this point you’re probably wondering where that is for me. Or you’re one of the many people I’ve already told what I’m doing and you’re thinking “Gosh I had no idea she put 2 years of thought into this decision!” Well, welcome to my world. This is how the indecisive mind works; you have to plan ahead!
Okay, so by now you’re really wondering where I am headed as I make my big move tomorrow. Don’t worry, I’m getting there! You’re probably feeling like you’re watching Lebron James’ Decision all over again! (Or the much more entertaining ‘spoof-of’ by Steve Carell).
Well tomorrow I set off for...NEW JERSEY! I can now officially call the New Jersey/New York Track club my new “team.” NJNYTC is a group of professional middle-distance runners, who train together under Coach Frank Gagliano (Aka Coach Gags). Like myself, they all aspire to make Olympic and World Championship teams, and the track club offers them the support they need to make it there.
I’m extremely grateful to have this opportunity to be a part of a real club, to know I’m training besides the best, being challenged, and being coached by one of the best coaches in the world. After all, they don’t call Gags the “Godfather of Track and Field” for no reason; he’s had 50 years of incredible success! You can’t really beat the wisdom that a coach acquires over all of that time, and I know that having girls to push me during practice is what I need. When I went up to N.J. this summer to visit I realized that being a part of club team like this was the closest thing I’d find to college and having a group to live and train with would ease the transition to the next level. I felt like it was where I was meant to be, despite the lack of flashing signs or voices in my head,
I just kind of thought to myself, yep this is where you need to be.
Now as I make my move up North (honestly somewhere I wouldn’t have thought I’d be going a few years ago) I know there’s just one thing I have to keep in mind and everything will go well: I’m not only running for Oiselle now, or even NJNYTC…I hope one day to run for the great U-S-A…but at the end of the day I’m ultimately running and living every day for my God and Savior. As long as I keep Him 1st in my priorities then I know whatever decisions I make, or races I run, I’ll have the opportunity to share His love, truth and security with others. And that is what I strive to make my life and my running all about.
————FOUR FUN FACTS ABOUT NJNYTC—————
1. The team practices in NJ, but members come from all over the NJ/NY/PA area
2. In the winter they train inside a “bubble” on an indoor track (So long to 50 degree “winter days” in Tallahassee!)
3. “Since its inception in 2010, the New Jersey New York Track Club has produced the 2013 U.S. Road Mile Champion, a 2013 IAAF World XC team member, two 2012 Olympians, two 2012 IAAF Indoor World Championship members and a 2011 IAAF Outdoor World Championships qualifier.”
4. NJNYTC is always looking for donations to help cover the cost of living expenses, travel, health care, therapy, training costs and entry fees. Please visit: http://www.njnytc.com/donate.html to support me & my club. Thank you!!!