Recommitting to Running: RunPro Recap

It's been a while since I've updated the blog, as I've been super busy as of late - it's been a go-go-go summer so far! Between a 4th of July trip to Davis, camping with my family at Donner Lake, and the RunPro camp in Minneapolis this past weekend, I've barely had time to breathe! I've been living out of a suitcase and my room is an absolute disaster (I'd like to blame that on all the travel, but let's be honest, my room is messy all the time...)

At any rate, this past weekend I had the incredible opportunity to attend the first-ever RunPro Camp, hosted by Team USA Minnesota and USA Track & Field. The camp was a 4-day networking event designed to connect aspiring professional distance runners and provide them with the tools necessary to pursue a professional running career. For me, the jam-packed camp was probably the best thing that's happened to my running in a long time. I arrived in Minneapolis after a year of ups and downs, having spent the past 12 months floundering as I tried to navigate the world of professional running. Upon returning home, I not only feel empowered to take control of my pro running career, but I'm excited and more passionate about this running dream than ever.

This weekend I met 20 amazingly talented distance runners who are all in the same boat as me - after finishing our collegiate eligibility, we still hunger for more. Whether we have unfinished business on the track or are anxious to debut on the road racing circuit, we all share the common dream of making a career out of running. Being a professional in our chosen sport is no easy task - there's no NFL draft or minor league for us to easily transition into. Instead, upon leaving the ranks of the student-athlete, it's up to us to figure out how to make it in the sport. There's little money to be had and we're certainly not in it for the fame... but we LOVE to run, to compete, and to explore the limits of our athletic ability. So, we embark upon this journey to become a professional runner...

As I said, this past year has had it's fair share of ups and downs, with unfortunately more lows than highs. After having surgery a year ago to remove my problematic gallbladder (which had thwarted my final season of college track), I had to take a fair bit of time off. Last fall, I slowly tried to rebuild fitness, but it was a long road back. I had a few successful races in 2011, but overall felt like I was always one step behind, constantly playing catch-up and never truly prepared to race. There were many times when I wondered if I just shouldn't give up on it all and go get a real job. Thankfully, after a much-needed break and some time to reflect on my goals, I recommitted to pursuing my running aspirations (2012 Olympic Trials and beyond!). In the past 6 weeks I've finally been able to lay the foundations for a solid season, hammering away at the base mileage and building fitness every day. I've got a summer/fall racing schedule mapped out and am excited to see what I can do in the coming months.

Attending the RunPro camp was an incredible opportunity and I tried to make the most of my 4 days in Minneapolis, learning all that I could, meeting people, asking questions, sharing experiences. Time and again I referred to the camp as a game-changer -- this weekend changed my attitude, changed my approach to professional running, changed my outlook on the future. Whereas in the past year I've felt like I was navigating in the dark, now I feel empowered to take hold of this dream. I liken the RunPro experience to my experiences with Economics for Leaders (EFL), an econ/leadership camp I went to in high school (yes, I was -- and still am -- a nerd). While the econ component of EFL wasn't life-changing, the leadership portion sure was. After a week of intense leadership training and team-building activities, where I met students from across the country, I came home a more confident, self-assured young woman. EFL was life-changing, especially for a young 17-year-old who'd never ventured far from the sheltered "Davis bubble." The RunPro camp was a similarly empowering game-changer, serving to renew my confidence and my passion. On yesterday's long run, I flew through Golden Gate Park and along Ocean Beach still on the "high" of my RunPro experience.

Run Joyfully!