In addition to finding a coach, training partners and a place to train, two important considerations for an athlete thinking about becoming a professional distance runner are 1) how do I make a living, and 2) how do I stay healthy.
Financially, athletes generally have the following options:
- Obtain a shoe contract that provides a stipend, travel money and equipment (see information in the Representation section).
- Join a training center that provides support in the form of stipends, housing, travel expenses and/or work (see information in the Training Centers section).
- Find a job that is flexible with limited hours so there is time to train. The USATF Foundation's Career Support program offers career mentoring and job search assistance for part-time roles that are flexible to an athlete's training and travel. Learn more about USATF Foundations's opportunities.
- Seek out grants, sponsorships, and special funds.
- Do well at competitions in order to win prize money and perhaps secure an appearance fee.
To stay healthy, athletes need to try and replicate the support they enjoyed in the collegiate environment, as follows:
- Have health insurance – even if it has a high deductible - in order to cover costs associated with a serious or ongoing injury, both in terms of treatment and rehabilitation.
- Find trainers and medical personnel such as doctors, physical therapists, massage therapists, chiropractors, etc
- Eat healthy foods, follow good nutrition and get necessary rest.
- Obtain a fitness club membership or gain access to a school’s weight/training room.
- Follow a coach’s training program and keep lines of communication open regarding health.
- Make sure the training situation is a comprehensive, positive and supportive environment.