University gives you the chance to join like-minded individuals, not only academically, but also in the sphere of running (who you will have probably competed against at some point previously), make new friends, race in new competitions and on new courses, remain healthy and active, and above all, explore the new place you now call home.
What could be more appealing, especially if the weekend away at BUCS is on the cards.
The majority of my best memories so far of my time at The University of Edinburgh have to be running related. Not necessarily because I have taken the Scottish cross country scene by storm… quite the opposite in fact. It is more the fact that the university club, the Haries (Hare and Hounds) have formed the backbone for my friendships, social life and trips away throughout the year.
I made a relatively big step to go all the way to Scotland (from my home town of Reading) to pursue my academia. Already a keen runner, I knew that I’d want to be part of the running club without a doubt. How fortunate I was when I got here and found a well-established club, filled to the brim with wonderful, kind and friendly faces of whom I’d be welcomed from week one. No fear whatsoever in attending socials, races… it’s important to get yourself involved in any way possible (and utterly fantastic, of course).
Although training is different from home, the opportunity to meet such a broad range of talented runners has taught me a lot about myself as an athlete. The best thing about the club is running alongside an international level athlete is not considered abnormal. I was watching the British Senior Champs on the television this year, pointing out one of my friends that was in the 1500m final. Cool, right. The fact that I’d been party to many of her training runs… even cooler.
Furthermore, I’ve entered into the world of Scottish distance running… a certainly successful and ever-improving domain. I’ve had the chance to run in hills with the best hill runners in the country, or hit the trails, and not forgetting regularly running at Meadowbank, the Commonwealth Games track from the 70s and 80s. A few weeks ago, I toed the start line of the National Short Course Cross Country Championships next to Laura Muir. A few weeks before, watched Jake Wightman race the National relays, and have seen Andy Butchart and Callum Hawkins race head to head in real life. No need to go to the world champs… I’m now part of it (sort of.)
I can chat to winners of races. Everyone so humble. Learn from them. Improve.
Nothing, therefore, compares to the weekend at BUCS. Best weekend of the year, without a doubt – and I’ve only been once! Sheffield last year: the course was great, the company even better. Every university student and runner from across the country descended on the Steel City, to race their all during the day, and then party at Pop Tarts that night to celebrate. The fact that with the running club it can be both competitive and so relaxed makes university running the cherry on top of an already great experience simply being at university itself, providing friends, memories and good times both racing and at socials.
Among all this is great fun; however, it is important not to get caught up in the world wind of other runners you encounter at university. There are now so many more people, all of whom approach training in a different way. It is crucial that you continue to do what’s good and works for you, and you only. It’s all too easy to get carried away once there is a new level of freedom. Learn from those that you meet, but don’t be that sheep and follow at the detriment of your running ability. Approach change in mileage, intensity… etc with caution – not too quick to make dramatic changes.
Also keep note of your overall health. University is hard work – living independently requires a fair bit of getting used to. I recently have had a blood test to learn that my ferritin and haemoglobin levels have been run into the ground: a combination of working and running hard. There’s always something going on in Edinburgh to be part of and I took every opportunity. Take time to rest and recuperate – this may be more than previously! It’s as important as the training you put in anyway. I’ve learned this from the best.
While I hope to be back in shape and able to run to my full capacity by February so I can experience BUCS again, those of you at university or joining next year, approach the running club and facilities with open arms. Be sure that what you are doing is suited to you and it will be easy and good results will follow. Your new teammates will be your best friends and the club will be the supporting community you need when away from home. Everyone in the running club has your back. There’s something about their mindset.
I would just like to say a huge thank you to Lydia for writing this insightful and inspiring blog! For those who are thinking of going to uni it’s always amazing to here what it’s like from the inside, especially from a runners’ point of view!
If you would like to read more from Lydia, you can do so using the following links:
ps. I’m off to Germany tomorrow to visit my cousins so the stress fracture diary blog that I had planned will now be posted at the beginning of the New Year, Next week you can look forward to a little video from my holiday and then of course it’s Christmas!