As we close in on nationals, I decided I would finally share a post I wrote a while ago. Enjoy!
If you ask anyone close to me what they think my favorite part of college is, I guarantee you they won’t tell you all the homework, or exams, or even the ~crazy~ parties. They will tell you my favorite part of college is being a part of club running. And this answer is 100% right. Let me tell you why…
I think we need to back up a bit. Ever since I was young I have been a part of some sort of sport. For a long time it was soccer (which I still miss!) before I transitioned over to only focusing on running in high school. High school track and cross country was great. I met great friends (even my current boyfriend) and had loads of fun at meets. Because of this great experience, I was determined to keep running (especially doing so on some sort of a team) in my life on college. Enter Maryland club running!
Freshman year is a confusing time, despite what some people’s Instagram might show. If you go out of state like me, you most likely know close to no one at your new school, and you’re just trying to find ways to pass the time until class starts. Like I said, I was eager to keep a running team in my life, so through my summer research I had already found and contacted the running club at university of Maryland. From the day I arrived on campus, I was counting down the days until the first practice. Before we go any further, let’s get something straight. I am NOT an outgoing person when I first meet someone. So something I’ve loved about sports my whole life is that it’s basically a bunch of instant friends! You spend hours together each day until you feel comfortable with each other without even realizing it happened. When I went to practice that first day, I was hoping I found “my people”. At first I stuck around because everyone was nice, I liked running, and I liked the structure it added to my day. I didn’t talk much, but was content just being there and listening to the chatter on group runs. Practice provides a guaranteed 2ish hours of stress relief each day. I can’t quite pinpoint when it happened, but eventually there’s was a different reason why I kept sticking around. Don’t get me wrong, the people are still nice, I still like running, and I still like the structure it adds to my day, but there’s more now. I truly understand club running now. This wonderful sport manages to combine the best aspects of running with the best aspects of club sports to produce (in my opinion) the best activity you can participate in, and here are my top 5 reasons why:
- It’s FUN: A few weekends ago we ran a race, and it was one of the freshman’s first cross country races ever. I saw her cross the line with a big smile on her face and she later told me how fun the entire meet was. Despite the pain racing inevitably causes, it really is fun to push yourself to your limits and see progress throughout the season.
- Nobody takes themselves too seriously: Club running meets are never short on shenanigans. Will people be running in costumes? Yep (I once witnessed two girls run an entire race in the RAIN in dinosaur costumes, that’s some serious dedication). Will one of your races be started by a didgeridoo? You bet. Will your team get a pumpkin full of candy for placing in the top few teams? Only if you’re lucky! (and yes we’ve been lucky enough for that). And finally, yes. You might just catch someone cheering with a loaf of bread in one hand and an ear of corn in the other.
- The competition is there if you want it: Even with all of the fun, NIRCA (the National Intercollegiate club running association) is still extremely competitive if that’s your thing. If not, no worries! You’re more than welcome to hobby jog in the back of the pack. But for those looking to see how much faster they can go, club running has the competition to push you to a new personal best.
- Fun trips with your friends: Sometimes to find the competition you have to travel a little bit, which means… overnight meets! Yes, basically a big sleepover with your friends with some running on the side! Okay, maybe the running is the main event but sometimes the stay in hotel is just as fun. Where do we travel you might ask? Last year we traveled by van all the way out to East Lansing Michigan to compete in the NIRCA cross country national championships. Oh man was it cold, (or hot who for those who caught on fire… ask Shannon for details) but it was SO worth it. We got to compete against clubs from all over the country, cheer on our teammates, run some fast races, and have a fun weekend not worrying about school.
- The people: My 5th and most important reason is the wonderful people. First, the people from other teams. They’re supposed to be the competition, right?? You might be racing each other, but we all still encourage each other during races and congratulate each other on a race well run. I will never forget when I lapped a girl from another team in a track race and she cheered me on BY NAME as I ran by. If that isn’t true sportsmanship, then I don’t know what is. Now about my own teammates. My teammates have become my best friends (some even my roommates). They’ve taken me on my first backpacking trip, introduced me to the world that is bubble tea, and showed me how to be genuinely excited for each other’s triumphs and be supportive them when they fall.
I hope you get the point because I think I’ve gone on for long enough. In short, CLUB RUNNING IS THE BEST THING EVER.