Done with NCAA track career; what’s next?

What does all this depressing stuff about not running for Baylor and how I got to a bad place mean for the future? What the heck is this chick going to do with her life?

Right now I am lining everything up to finish my graduate degree in PR & New Media at Baylor by December of this year. No more resting on my track laurels to pay for school; I won’t be on athletic scholarship next year (no more eligibility, woohoo). However, my department at the Baylor Graduate School is very generous with scholarships and will probably enable me to finish without going into debt. I have faith that if it’s where God wants me to be, finances can work themselves out. If not I can just quit school; I already got one degree.

pat neff

Not ready to leave this place quite yet. Baylor is phenomenal.

After December, I want to pursue professional running as well as my non-running professional career (a real-world job in PR/ marketing in the running industry) in some capacity. I’m not sure what this is going to look like.

Dream world would be that I’d get back into running this summer, train in Waco this fall, and set up my future so I could pursue 75% running and 25% non-running. I would like to do 100% running, except 1. pro runners don’t make that much money and I’m not even close to that level yet and 2. The running component in this situation would be me being on some post-collegiate team/club, and doing part-time PR for whatever club I join. If I was injured, I could amp up the time spent working for them and they wouldn’t jettison me for not producing results because I would be valuable in non-running ways. That’s my outside assessment, ha, but I still have a lot to learn about the post-collegiate world.

So, if I didn’t get an opportunity to be on post-collegiate team, like if I was mysteriously injured for the next year (which is how it feels right now), the balance of running/work would probably be flipped. I’d get a job like a person who has come to terms with the limits of their physical potential, and pursue running on my own. Run for fun. Maybe compete if I could get it together, train for a marathon, triathlon, ultras, crossfit, whatever.

x fit 1

Sure cross fitters seem crazed…

x fit

… But can’t you picture a runner saying this?

No matter the pursuit, I think I just want a niche again. This part is hard to plan because it is unpredictable. I haven’t run for FIVE MONTHS, people, who knows what life is capable of throwing at me!

My little brother keeps telling me it’s ok to hang up the spikes for good, but there are just too many success stories in this sport for me to want to quit. Whatever, he doesn’t know what it’s like. And it’s not like I’m putting myself through torture or missing out on the rest of life to keep trying to pursue running. Well, I mean, heel pain for three months straight/being in a boot for two months was unpleasant, but it wasn’t forever. Grad school at Baylor is a great place to be. Next year, if I don’t go “pro,” worst case I’ll be working a job.

I have not begun to formally contact coaches or apply for jobs. There’s a lot going on here just keeping my head above water with schoolwork and my job at the running store. I can work on this in the summer and fall. I’m at the point in my job search right now where I have these unspecific fantasies about living somewhere uber-outdoorsy like Colorado or California, but we’ll see how I actually feel about leaving home in Texas when it comes decision-time.

Point is, I don’t have to put all my eggs in one basket of running, because I picked a career that allows time for outside hobbies (unlike someone who wants to go to med school and can’t do that + run at the same time). Besides, every professional athlete needs an outlet besides sports to keep them from going crazy by focusing only on the sport.

Recap: I still want to run. Scheming and dreaming as to how exactly to do that. Not sure why I bother planning; stuff always turns out differently. And from what I hear, this feeling of uncertainty, possibility and so much opportunity it’s crushing you are all part of being in your 20s! Growing up, y’all.

One great thing I have learned (more to come for sure) is that even without running, I still wake up and find out that the world is still spinning, people still love me, and I can still make a difference.

277862_10151185726083777_1497154899_o

from my last summer job at Team Prep USA. One foot in front of the other…

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5 thoughts on “Done with NCAA track career; what’s next?

  1. William Collins

    I have been following your blog for the past year or so. As you enter this next chapter of your life you will seek and receive advise from a broad group. Megan Lund Lizotte is a friend from my time in Colorado. She was an accomplished collegiate runner and has had a great post college career running especially for the United States’ high alpine marathon team. She took some time off to have her first child but just saw today that she is returning with an upcoming race in Switzerland. Megan is a fantastic person. She has a personal training company, Hit the Ground Running in Basalt, Colorado. You can find Megan and/or her company on Facebook. She might have some valuable insight and ideas for you and I know she would welcome the opportunity to visit with you.
    Only the best as you move forward.

    Reply
  2. Diamond Richardson

    Crossfit is great for athletes! It doesn’t completely fill the void but is very good at simulating our experience as athletes :) Pushing yourself, PRs…. give it a try!

    Reply
  3. Pingback: Never alone | cate runs

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