How to and why run in college

The Traits of a Collegiate Runner

I have been blessed to help many young runners reach their dream of running in college. In a nutshell, I would like to talk today about the most important factors to reach the college running dream.

Of course, you have to have the talent to run in college. The first step is working with a qualified coach who can assess your true potential to run at the next level.

Depending on what study you read, less than 2 or 3% of all high school athletes make it to the college level. However, statistics can be deceiving. We’ve been blessed to far exceed the national average with the runners we’ve worked with over the years in terms of helping them get to the next level.    

Assuming the student-athlete has the potential and wants to run in college, here are some of the traits and thoughts of future collegiate runners.

Knows that Commitment and Consistency are key

If you want to run in college, commitment to daily workouts is the most important factor by far. You can’t expect to get to the next level if you’re not consistently at practice each day. There is a reason why 97 percent of student athletes don’t move to the next level. Well-structured off season conditioning (without burning yourself out) is also mission critical to running at the next level.  

Self-sacrifice and self-discipline are more than mere words to the future collegiate runner, they are a way of life.

You certainly have to work hard in high school, but you can also play hard even at this elite level. However, you have to plan and integrate many of those other fun and other meaningful activities around the training and competition schedule. It can be done with good planning and foresight. I’ve seen many student-athletes find this balance in high school.

Sees the value of running over the long haul

Running on a college scholarship combined with academic scholarships, generally requires more commitment at the collegiate level than high school (this is not always the case at smaller colleges). You also have to be willing to give it your best during your collegiate career.

The possibility of coming out of college with little or no debt is certainly an incentive to run at the next level. You should never run for this reason alone in college but running can literally give you a head start in your adult life if it helps reduce the costs of a college education.

Your return on your college investment is much higher if you pay less for your degree in the current super inflated college tuition environment.

The cost of college today is way out of line with the income of most families. In 1988, the median household income dedicated to higher education was 22 percent. Today it is more than 50 percent. Wages nationwide are not keeping up with tuition increases. If wages kept up with tuition increases, the average median family income would be more than double what it is today.

To make college more financially practical today, most families must be more proactive in their planning—like assessing the type of scholarships that are realistic and the ones that are not.  

Thinking long term about your future is important. As they say, “begin with the end in mind”. Starting off with excessive college debt is detrimental to young people right out of college in many ways.

For example, a newly married couple starting out normally wants to buy a house and start a family. Accruing a lot of college debt is not the best way to attain either of these goals. College debt limits what you can do in life especially if you buy into the American dream of buying a house shortly after the college years. Excessive debt is a big stress point for anyone let alone a young couple starting out.

Finding academic and athletic scholarships can dramatically reduce the costs of college and help you avoid or reduce the debt trap after college. Your financial return on your college investment may also be much higher due to lower college costs.

I’ve become a student of the best ways to plan and pay for college so I can help the people I coach much better. Where there is a will, there is a way. Learning the college funding process pays dividends for a lifetime.

Understands the value of aerobic exercise in the classroom

Study and study has shown the value of aerobic exercise in the classroom. I’ve written extensively about the value and correlation between running and academics in the past.

Continuing to run in college should help you in the classroom. If you want to see evidenced based studies on the value of aerobic exercise as it relates to strong grades in the classroom, send me a note on my contact page and I’ll be happy to supply you with many articles supporting this concept.

Does not want to look back in life and say “what if”

You’ve been given a gift for a reason. Most people who run in college decided they didn’t want to look back and say “what if”.

You only have a limited window of time to run to your potential. Age and other life responsibilities have a way of catching up with you after graduation.   

Runners don’t peak until their late twenties or thirties depending on the event. However, few collegiate runners find the time to compete at a high level after college due to work and family responsibilities.  

College is one chapter of life where you can explore how far you can take your running potential.

There are many other reasons to consider extending your running career into the collegiate years. Loving to run is at the top of the list. 

Think about your own reasons for running at the next level and pray for guidance as you make this important life decision.


Coach Weber

Philippians 4:13

Copyright 2018 Larry Weber