Training Groups For Distance Runners

posted by amyYB, a Women Talk Sports blogger
Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 12:53pm EDT

About amyYB:

Track Athlete, 2008 Olympian - 10,000 meters, Celiac Athlete, 6-time US National Champion, 2009 IAAF World Championships - 6th place 10,000 meters, 15-Time NCAA All-American, 14:56 5,000 meter P.R., 3...more

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Runpro.com lists 14 Training Centers or groups for professional distance runners.  They are located all over the United States and have varying degrees of requirements.  There are four groups not listed on Runpro.com.  The first three are NIKE based programs including: Nike Oregon Track Club Elite in Eugene, Nike Oregon Track Club in Portland, and Nike Oregon Project.  These programs have high standards, limited spaces available, and a Nike contract is required.  The fourth program, NE Distance, is brand new.  It is calling itself a community-based distance project and taking applications. http://nedistance.org/athlete.html

If you are entering your senior of college or have used up all of your collegiate eligibility, take a few minutes to look over the Runpro.com site. http://www.runpro.com/

It will guide you through the transition of turning pro.  There are many questions you will need to think through before making any decisions.  Knowing the realities of running professionally is important.  Jack Wickens wrote a great article about the pay range of T & F athletes on the Track & Field Athletes Association Bulletin. 


Tim Huntley also wrote an article similar to my “Cost of Elite Distance Running”.  His article goes more in-depth about the costs of traveling to races and training gear:


The main point to take from the Jack Wickens article is that a small percentage of distance runners ranked in the Top 10 in the USA will make enough money to support them.  Finding the right group becomes important to continue in the sport.  Also, a large percentage of athletes receive support from their families.  Parents typically help with insurance payments, rent, airfare and gear.  You need to have a discussion with your parents about your goals.  Set a time-line to being able to support yourself in running or evaluate at the end of each year to see if you hit the intended goals.  Ask your parents how long they would be willing to help you with this goal.

After you have decided to take on the task of turning professional, finding a coach, training group and sponsor become the focus.  Do you want to stay with your college coach?  Do they coach post-collegiates?  The NCAA has made it difficult for post-collegiates to train with college teams or even on the facilities.  The track program is only allowed three volunteer assistant coaches or 4 if one is a pole vault assistant coach. 

If you don’t want to or can’t stay with your college coach, start with a running resume, apply to training groups and look into hiring an agent.  Agents will help you negotiate sponsorship contracts, appearance fees, and travel to races.  The typical agent fee is 15%.  It was a huge mistake for me not to have an agent for my first 6 years out of college.  I made a lot of mistakes that would have been avoided with an agent.  Agents know the business and are connected to everyone in the sport.  They will know what track races are going to be fast or what road races will pay the most prize money. 

However, if you are just looking to do road races, you can make that work without an agent.  Most race websites have the contact information for the race directors or elite athlete coordinator.  You can contact them to arrange for an elite number or travel stipends to the race.  Road racing is a great way to prove yourself or help pay the bills.  Distance runners are lucky that we have this avenue of making a living.  Just make sure that you are making money on most of the road races and not losing money on each race.  Track is a different story.  There is very little money to be made racing on the track.  I like to say that people run track for the love of it because it rarely pays the bills.

Running professionally takes patience and commitment.  Most distance runners hit their peak in their late 20’s or early 30’s.  The way to a long successful running career includes finding a support system, building up your base, gaining experience, and staying healthy.  Consistency usually wins the race.

I am also available to help you.  If you have read through the Runpro site and have questions don't hesitate to contact me at: begleytrack@hotmail.com.  My goal is to help the next generation transition into a successful career with fewer bumps than I had. 

Good Luck! 



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