Taryn Rawlings continues her running ways in college
For cross country runner Taryn Rawlings, hard work is just a part of the process. It led her to success at Wilsonville High School, where she was one of the more decorated runners in the school's history. At the University of Portland, she continues that trend of running, enjoying the process, and learning more about herself.
"It's really been a fun experience," Rawlings said. "I think grown so much over the last three years so far, and it's been a lot of fun. School has been challenging, but I feel like I've learned so much over the course of the past three years in school. In running, I've been able to grow so much in that aspect as well. It's been a lot of fun."
Rawlings is in her senior year as a Pilot, pursuing a degree in business with an entrepreneurship. Like most students in the thrall of college, Rawlings is not exactly sure where she wants to go with it but is eyeing the real estate market. Rawlings studied other courses that piqued her interest.
"I took an environmental class that was Natural Hazards of the Pacific Northwest, and that was so interesting," Rawlings said. "There's a lot more than you think. The earthquake we could have off of our coast. Susceptibility and stuff like that has been really interesting. There are a lot more hazards that people aren't aware of, so that was really interesting to learn about."
When she is not in class, Rawlings is busy in her sport of choice: running. Currently in the winter season, the Wilsonville export will redshirt the indoor portion of her running year, but perhaps run unattached towards the end of the year. Rawlings runs a variety of events in indoor races, including the mile run and three kilometer run.
The training Rawlings goes through to be competitive at the college level has been increasing each year since she left Wilsonville High School.
"Starting out freshman year, my mileage wasn't significantly higher than high school because I kind of worked into it," Rawlings said. "I red shirted that first season of college in cross country, so Ian kind of let me work into the kind of mileage that all the girls run."
"Now I'm running about 80 miles a week, my freshman year I was running about 45-50 or so," Rawlings added. "In high school I was probably running 30, 35. It increased to freshman year, but not significant. Manageable. Each year it's probably been a 10 to 15 mile increase."
Running that much has been an enjoyable part of the process for Rawlings. At a certain point, she experiences the phenomenon that a lot of career runners do: a runners high. It is something that she really loves. Still though, it has not been totally smooth sailing this year. Rawlings has had to overcome recent adversity.
"Right now I'm dealing with an injury, and all of this past cross country season I'm dealing with a rolled ankle that I rolled early in the season," Rawlings said. "I never could give it the rest it needed so it just bothered me all season long. It's been challenging this past semester, especially because I haven't really dealt with injuries much. It made it even harder to be able to push past it because I'm used to just feeling good all the time running. Having something that's kind of bothering me, and not being able to run as much, I had to decrease my mileage this whole season because my ankle couldn't take the mileage. That was hard because I felt like I wasn't getting as fit as I wanted to be, and I wasn't as fit as I usually was."
Apart from the injury, another form of adversity that Rawlings has had to deal with is something many athletes come across when they reach the collegiate level. Not being the top athlete on the team is something that Rawlings has had to overcome.
"I would say at first it was extremely hard to swallow the fact that I wasn't going to be winning races and I wasn't going to be the best anymore. That was definitely hard. I think at first I just kind of accepted it, and was like, 'Okay, well if I'm doing decent enough on my team to be on the varsity, that's okay.' Then, right around sophomore year, it switched in me that I wanted to be better. I didn't want to be an average college runner, and I decided to make a change and really dedicate myself to running."
The dedication that Rawlings has made to her craft has really paid dividends. Not only does she view running as more of an opportunity and less of an obligation, but she has reached new heights as an athlete. Rawlings made it to the NCAA cross country championships and the NCAA track and field championships last year, and looks to keep improving.
Rawlings wants to continue her upward trajectory, not only in her collegiate career, but post college as well.
"I would definitely like to try and run professionally a little bit, or at least continue running and try to make the Olympic trials that are the year after my fifth year," Rawlings said. "Technically, I'm graduating in 2018, and then I'll have my fifth year which will be done in 2019. I'll graduate in the spring, and then I'll do the MBA program for one year, it's like a year and a half program, and I'll have a fifth year of eligibility."
"If I did try for the Olympics, I think the 1,500 would be my go to," Rawlings specified. "I would need to shave maybe four or five seconds, maybe six. I think it's 4:09, and I've run 4:16. Hopefully if things progress the way I want them to, I should be able to make it. Maybe the 5K if my endurance keeps getting better, but we'll see."
In this journey through college, as a student and a runner, Rawlings has discovered the dedication it takes to better herself, and has a message for people who are on the fence about pursuing their passions.
"I've learned over my time in college is that you can be as good as you want to be," Rawlings said. "If you really make up your mind that it's something you truly want and you really enjoy it and love what you're doing, then you can get to whatever level you want to. I think I'm still trying to do that every day. For anyone else that's trying to achieve something, you're totally capable if you set your mind to it."