Confession of a Division 1 Cross Country Athlete - Part 1, by @dzboston33

Many of you have no idea who I am, after this many of you won’t remember who I am. I’m just a guy like many others who ran Cross Country and Track in college for a division 1 school. For the most part nobody cared about our sport and even less people cared about me. I was a walk on from a small town in the middle of Texas.

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Obsession

My school was obsessed with Football and that was all that matter. Well... football and tailgating. However, I took part in neither of these. You see, I was one of those runners who obsessed over my running. I didn’t attend any school functions outside of class, practice and competitions. I didn’t even really socialize outside my team since all my time was dedicated to running.

While this obsession was “great” for my running. It wasn’t for my mental health. My identity was entangled with how I ran. My freshmen year, it was fine, I ran well and felt well. My sophomore year however, not so much, I tore two tendons in my ankle and three in my foot in an accident. I couldn’t run, much less even walk, and with that I didn’t know what to do.

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I stayed at my apartment, locked in my room, away from my roommates. Mind you, I had 3 roommates and barely talked to them and avoided them when I was able to. At this point, I didn’t know who I was. I mean I was a “runner” right? Who was I without running?

Months of not feeling like a person and missing classes I ended up failing two courses. Perfect… Perfect way to end this semester. I finally spoke to my parents about what was going, and they were understanding. At this point, I went and spoke with my coach, who suggested that I could see a Psych. Therefore, I went and met with a Sports Psychologist.

Through these meetings, I was able to start overcoming some of the issues I was having. It also helped me determine that I wanted to change my major from Business to Exercise and Sport Sciences which then lead to a masters in Sports Psychology.

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I can’t eat anything that I want

I hear this a lot. This is not true; we can’t eat anything that we want. If you’ve heard the term “skinny fat” a lot of runners end up this way because they do little to not strength training and eat awful food all the time because they “can”.

Eating Disorders

I never personally suffered from an eating disorder. However, it very common especially with female distance runners. I had teammates that commonly did eat enough due to thinking that if they lost a few additional pounds that they would run faster.

This was true for a while. However, other issues begin occurring. Often, they would become anemic and then start running even slower prior to the weight loss. However, once in the cycle of an eating disorders it can be pretty hard to break without outside help.

If you have any questions about being a college athlete or about running please let me know and I'll do my best to answer your questions!

6.124 SBD

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