Just like collegiate athletes who play football, basketball, or baseball, runners who compete on the track and in cross country can become professional athletes. So how do you know whether you are an athlete who has the potential to become a successful distance runner? There are a number of indicators.

A collegiate distance runner who earns All-American honors in one or several national finals of track or cross country events and/or runs one of the top times in the country for a particular event, has the potential to become a professional runner. An athlete doesn't necessarily need to be the best runner in the country or even an NCAA champion. National champions are the exception, not necessarily the rule, for who can become a successful post-collegiate distance runner.

While talent and potential are certainly factors in pursuing this path, equally important are desire, determination, and motivation. Athletes who believe they have the ability and potential to make an Olympic team will find the pursuit well worth the journey. As with any goal worth attaining, becoming the best doesn't  happen overnight. Those who have a successful career as a professional athlete will have a passion for running and the desire to see how good they can become!

Making the Transition

Some runners choose to stay with their college coach but today many others have the option to affiliate with a training center, which provides coaching and a supportive environment that enables an athlete to pursue running as a career. Just like the college selection process, the task of deciding where to go can be confusing and complicated. Overall, you need to be aware of the opportunities available to a post-collegiate distance runner.

Here are some factors to consider:

• Who do I want to coach me?
• What type of training partners do I want?
• What event or events will provide me with the most success?
• Where do I want to live?
• Should I train at altitude?
• Do I want a location that has good part-time job opportunities?
• What type of support and services are available?
• Can I get sponsored?
• Do I need an agent?
• How do I make enough money to make a living at this sport?