So, I'm a sophomore girl in high school and I've been running track ever since I can remember. I find myself in love with the sport, and I also have a lung disease called cystic fibrosis which motivates me that much more. There is nothing I could dream of more than going to a D1 college to sprint. I'm 16 and run the 100 meter dash as my main event. I have already shaved off a second on my 100 time, and my PR is 13.32 seconds as of right now. I know going to a D1 college is a long shot, but I was hoping you could give me some workout and diet tips to get to the next level to get noticed by a college coach. I know it’s not an easy path to take, but I’m ready to put my all into it. Thank you so much!
Hi Haley. I love the passion in your email and I hope I can be helpful. You might not agree with everything I'll suggest, but hopefully some of it will be applicable.
My first thought is that you need to focus on the journey, not the outcome. What do I mean? Focus on running a bit faster every couple of weeks, brining your time down incrementally. As a sprinter you need to focus on good technique in the 100m, which obviously means learning to be patient with your start and to learn the proper acceleration mechanics. A sprinter who gets no stronger or gains no metabolic fitness will see their times drop IF they learn to properly execute the acceleration phase. But this takes years to learn. I had the pleasure of listening to Tom Tellez, Carl Lewis's coach, speak at a clinic in Denver this winter and the thing that I left with - other than the fact that Tellez is a gem of a coach - is that those guys spent hours and hours learning to accelerate. It's the key to running a fast 100m and I'd be shocked if your acceleration couldn't use some work.
...and even if you become a really good at accelerating, you still may not run fast enough to run at a DI school. I'm sorry to say that, but it's the truth. But who really cares? As a former NCAA division I coach I can say with a straight face that DI isn't all it's cracked up to be. Please trust me when I say you can find passionate coaches in DII, DIII, NAIA and the Junior College (JUCO) levels. There are great track programs in every state, but you can't say that the best track program in every state is a DI program. If you love the sport, you need to find a program that will appreciate that passion and wants you on the team. If you run fast enough to walk-on at a DI school and they want you on the team, great. But remember that some athletes who are faster than you and who will end up running DI don't really want to be there and that you may be happier if you can find a coach and a team where everyone is working hard each day to become faster.
Final thought. See how fast the current athletes at these colleges are running. Sometimes schools will say, "We only take athletes who run 11.00 FAT (fully automated timing) or faster in the 100m" but then you go to their results and see two juniors and a senior on the team running 11.50-12.50 FAT. There's a story there and for whatever reason, those people are on the team. Sometimes coaches will allow slower athletes on their team because their good students and good citizens, but you're better off asking these questions if you've already done your research. And in this day and age it's simple - go through the results of each meet the school has run this season - though it takes time.
Best of luck Haley and don't lose your passion for sprinting.
*Coach Jay's advice is provided as general training information. Use at your own risk. Always consult with your own heath care provider for questions relating to your specific training and nutrition.