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Post-Collegiate Racing Season: Competitive Athlete Vs. Recreational Runner

Did the Olympics spark that fire for your inner-competitor too? Obviously the highlight for me was the track events. I have so much respect for these world-class athletes, but I also know how much of a sacrifice they make to commit their life to a sport. Running is literally their job.

Now that I’m on the other side of the collegiate-athlete world, I started realizing how differently I look at running/races as a competitive athlete versus as a recreational runner. 

Conference 10k 2013 (stronglikemycoffee.com)

When I signed that scholarship agreement during my senior year of high school, I was committing to represent Northern Arizona University, the Lumberjacks, and Adidas. Training was a mandatory part of every day. Being on an NCAA Division 1 Track team was something I’d worked hard for, and it will always be one of my proudest achievements.

D1 Cross Country Meet Buffalo Park | Stronglikemycoffee.com

When I graduated one year ago, the collegiate running career officially ended as well. Now I have to find the motivation to run myself. Suddenly running is a choice. Do I even want to run anymore? Of course I do. That’s a no-brainer. There’s just no training plan I “have” to follow or any races I must compete in. There’s no one else tied to my performance.

I can’t say I prefer one over the other. I LOVED being a collegiate athlete; it gave me an identity and purpose at my school. It was incredibly rewarding, but stressful at times, and I think 8 years (high school and college) is the perfect amount of time to be a serious competitive athlete.

Gallatin Recreation Area Run (stronglikemycoffee.com)

I’m also learning to LOVE the perks of being a recreational runner. There’s less stress and pressure; there are more options for workouts beyond what’s dictated by a coach. So here’s my comparison of Competitive Athlete vs. Recreational Runner now that I’ve enjoyed my time as both:

Conference Girls Team (stronglikemycoffee.com)

Competitive Athlete: 

  • Collegiate running spoiled me with free race entries, plus free transportation, lodging, food, racing gear and not to mention a dozen pairs of shoes a year. That’s a tough one to say goodbye to after college. (Thankfully I was able to jump right into the Boise Elite running team when I moved to Idaho which has a couple of sponsors and free race entries.)
  • A coach can give you an outside perspective on your weak areas and ways to improve.
  • Your team and coaches hold you accountable for your workouts; skipping a long run is simply not an option.
  • Collegiate races have competitors at or above your level who can help push you through the race to improve your time. The atmosphere, the crowd, and the “official” nature of these types of races also boost adrenaline and help performance.

goofy team pictures

 

After graduation, that all goes away unless you are in the seriously elite 1% who become professional sponsored runners. I’m definitely not in that group :) I said goodbye to my blue and gold uniform but my love of running is still strong and I’ve been enjoying local race events as an individual runner.

Recreational Running:

marathon finish (stronglikemycoffee.com)

  • The stress of pleasing your coach and representing your school is lifted.
  • I actually find enjoyment from my sport again now that I put less pressure on myself.
  • You meet so many people in your community, who are just happy to be there, and it instantly boosts your mood.
  • You can find scenic courses and run through gorgeous scenery rather than a turf oval track.
  • You can win money ;) NCAA rules prohibit any “extra benefits” which include race prizes.
  • You can race with an iPod!!! This one is HUGE for me because I run twice as fast it feels like when a really good beat comes on.

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    Just a track workout with 2 of the Rio 2016 Olympians, Shalane Flanagan and Emily Infeld. No big deal.

This weekend, I’ll be racing a local 10k road race. After that, I’ll continue training for an upcoming half-marathon. Transitioning from a student-athlete to a random road race runner isn’t too difficult because both have their perks. Let me know if you have any additions to these lists!

I’ll catch ya later on this week with a new back-to-school breakfast recipe I’m working on too :)

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Lately.

Because there is more than just workouts and recipes. And because rainy nights make the best time for brewing coffee, burning a pumpkin candle, and blogging.

Rainy day collage (stronglikemycoffee.com)So what’s happening lately. Well I’ve been watching Angel’s games, adding sugar-free pumpkin spice creamer to my oatmeal, using far too many emoji’s in group texts, feng-shuing the apartment furniture, and falling asleep before 10pm. We’re experiencing weird side effects from the tropical storms and there is a weird limbo period right now between summer and fall. Most mornings I’m not sure if I should wear a sundress or a scarf.

Lately I’ve been thinking about where I’m going after graduation. All summer long, I basically researched cities in Washington, Idaho, Virginia, Georgia, Colorado, Tennessee and every where in between. Where am I going after graduation? Not here. Not home. My heart kept going back to North Carolina. And the more I felt pulled towards Carolina, the more it would pop up. My two FAVORITE bloggers moved to Charlotte over the summer (Simply Taralynn and Peanut Butter Fingers). Their pictures and posts are filled with Charlotte-this and Charlotte-that. Meanwhile, I’m looking for a post-graduation career in sports marketing. Charlotte = NASCAR capital, not to mention part of the “triad” (an area of D1 schools with incredible athletic programs). The character in the book I’m reading – NC native. My new athletic marketing boss – NC graduate. My running buddy at my local running club – ran for NC collegiate team.

Coincidence?!?!

Wilmington, North Carolina

One city that is too cute to be true: Wilmington, NC. I have to go there. I have to at least see it. I’ve spent hours on the internet, researching the demographics, the history, the culture. Drooling over pictures of the historic downtown, picturesque boardwalks and scenic parks. It’s basically a straight-line on the I-40 from here to Wilmington and I honestly day-dream about what an amazing roadtrip that will make after graduation.

I-40 California to Carolina

Plus, Chase Rice is from North Carolina. I’m doing my part to keep the cd industry alive and picked up his new Ignite the Night album the other day because my car pre-dates modern technology to plug in iPods and I wanted some new music to drive around to. Good Lord. After listening to the album start to finish, I searched for Mr. Rice’s concert tour dates. He’ll be two hours away next month. Aaaand now so will I :)

Chase Rice Album

At the risk of looking reeeaallll creepy…..I totally looked up Chase Rice’s instagram and fell in love when I saw this picture.

Copy of Chase Rice's Instagram pic

Lately, I also searched the Spotify workout playlists for some fun new upbeat stuff to fill my iPod.

Current playlist —-> Habits (Stay High) by Tove Lo; Black Widow by Iggy Azalea ft. Rita Ora; Ugly Heart by G.R.L.; Ex to See by Sam Hunt; We Can Glow by Royal Teeth; Animals by Maroon 5; and I’ll totally admit it……Shake it Off by Taylor Swift.

Shake it off by taylor swift iphone message

My fitness routine is a whole lot different than 5 months ago because I’ve learned that for ME personally Cardio >>> Weight Lifting.

I do HIIT regularly with body weight strength exercises but prefer to get sweaty than get swole. Cardio of choice: forever and always running.

So lately, there’s been some running on the treadmill:

Treadmill cardio session (stronglikemycoffee.com)

And running on the road:

Road running cardio sessions (stronglikemycoffee.com)

Running at running club. And tonight I’m running with an old teammate :)

So that’s me lately. :)

The Last Week of Summer Break

It has been 105 days of Summer Vacation.

As much as I love my family, I am beyond ready to return to college life for SENIOR YEAR. My car is packed, my apartment is ready, and I’m cruising down the highway as we speak! The past 7 days have been the busiest and craziest days…here are some highlight:

 The Green Goods:

Last week at work, our receptionist asked if anyone would like to “adopt” some of the office plants. I have a brand new unfurnished apartment…something green sounded nice!   I got some funky flowered plants (don’t ask me what they are). Well….they needed pots. And planting soil. And metal stakes. My “free” plant babies cost $30. These damn things better not die. ;)
My first house plant (Stronglikemycoffee.com)

The Book List:

I stocked myself up with PLENTY of reading material for the school year too! One day after work, I had some time to kill while I waited for the temperatures to cool off enough for an evening run. The selection at the used bookstore in the mall this week? JACK POT. As I browsed the store, the stack of books in my arms grew taller and taller. The cashier actually came to me TWICE to hold my books at the counter.

“That looks very heavy.” You underestimate my muscles, mister.

But thank you ;)

My favorite find of the day = Someday, Someday, Maybe because of the author. Lauren Graham AKA Lorelai Gilmore from Gilmore Girls AKA my favorite show ever and ever. I’m three chapters in and already hoping she writes a sequel.

New Used Books for Summer Reading List (Stronglikemycoffee.com)

The Last Home Long-Run:

On Sunday morning, I tackled a 12-mile long run before the 7 o’ clock hour. The route was different than usual because 3 miles in I took a sharp left turn that led to some greener views. Sightings: 1 coyote, 2 scruffy mutts, and 5 hungry ducks.

Summer Sunday Long Runs (Stronglikemycoffee.com)

A Jittery Habit:

I’ve picked up a habit of running to the deli next door for an afternoon Iced Americano with 3 pumps of sugar-free cinnamon dolce and a splash on non-fat. I have this “treat yourself” mentality going on right now. I’ve had 4 this week. Starbuck’s is capitalizing on my cold cravings and I’m okay with that.

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Baseball Oreos:

Our office hosted a Bake Sale fundraiser for one of the employees. Instead of buying goodies, I will be participating by contributing something to sell. Pinterest is my go-to for crafty-crafts and I was immediately attracted to “Baseball Pops” AKA white chocolate-covered Oreos.

Popsicle sticks + Oreos + White Melting Chocolate + Red candy melts

Baseball Oreos Pinterest Recipe (Stronglikemycoffee.com)
Interning as Usual:

All summer long, I have worked in the corporate office of a major national manufacturing company.  This has been an eye-opening experience since so much of my projects are directly related to my business courses. I’ve really enjoyed working in an office-setting….mainly because I get to dress up in heels and blazers and pencil skirts. Playing dress up is never a bad thing.

Office Intern (Stronglikemycoffee.com)

Lot’s of “goodbye” meals.

First, the department at work planned a mid-week lunch. It was my choice of restaurant. Toby Keith’s I Love this Bar & Grill :) No shop-talk allowed!  I got a salad with shrimp skewers, avocado, mango salsa and light balsamic vinegrette on the side. (It reminded me of the version I made two years ago…)

Shrimp Salad from TK Bar (Stronglikemycoffee.com)

We also met up for a last summer dinner with my mom’s BFF and her daughter. We were too busy girl-chatting for pictures on that one ;) Yesterday some girlies from work all went out for lunch at my favorite: Panera. Garden Veggie Soup with a Thai Chicken Salad:

Panera Bread Lunch (stronglikemycoffee.com)

Friday morning I walked into the office for the LAST day of my summer internship. Outside of my office was a breakfast spread that was noticeably different from previous company potlucks: It was healthy! Our office enjoys celebrating birthdays and special occasions with potlucks, most of which include donuts and streudals. They themed this one “healthy” in honor of moi and covered the table in fruits, nuts, granolas, yogurt, hummus and crackers. So sweet!

Office Breakfast Potluck Healthy Spread (Stronglikemycoffee.com)

Plus an awesome last dinner at a sushi bar, Ooka. This week was full of some hilarious, ridiculous moments. It included lots of packing and cleaning and errands. But it also became a little overwhelming at time, and by Friday night I wanted a drink! I wanted to sip, relax, laugh and have a great last night. It was a success :)
 

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Sending me off to school fat & happy and ready to take advantage of our amazing recreation center!

My summer was a long one. Two trips to New York and two medical procedures. Two trips to Flagstaff. One spectacular concert. Working full-time. Running morning and evening. Baking and cooking. Trips to San Diego and Newport. The only thing I didn’t get to was a baseball game. But the Dbacks are just a two-hour drive away, so maybe I’ll catch an AZ game pretty soon. ;)

BRING ON THE NEW SEMESTER.

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