the good the bad and the ugly

The Bad: There Is Always a Right Time

 

All athletes experiences “the bad” at some point in their career, and “the bad” always seems to sneak up on you, coming at the wrong time.  In fact, I just experienced “the bad” last week.

The Sunday going into the Husky Classic I had my most intense workout of the season (running my last 300 in 40 seconds). Two days later I started to get a sore throat. NOOOOO! Not before a big competition!  Is there ever a right time for “the bad”?

fortune

The Sochi Winter Olympics has shared many stories about the “the bad.” One of my favorite stories is about Olympic alpine skier, Dominique Gisin. At the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Gisin fell during the competition suffering from a concussion.  Over the course of her career she endured 9 knee surgeries!  At the 2014 Olympics in Sochi the Swiss Olympian skied her way to a gold medal with Tina Maze from Slovenia. Gisin’s road to gold was anything but smooth.  But it was Gisin’s bumpy road that made her destination that much sweeter. After the competition she was quoted, “I am overwhelmed with emotions. I am so happy – What a day.”

Every person has a different “bad”

For this blog, I could write about my 8 stress fractures or how I got sick 7 times in one year (the inspiration behind AmPurity). But I think I’ll tell a different story.  A story that no one has heard except for a few close people.  I hope my story illustrates that maybe there is a right time for “the bad.”

In 2007 I went through a 3-month phase. A phase where I would eat soft foods (ice cream, rice crispy treats) so that when I threw them up later it wouldn’t hurt.  How does a phase like this start?

That year I moved out of the dorms and into off-campus housing. My roommate at the time was suffering from a severe eating disorder. One of my best friends was also suffering from a severe eating disorder. In fact about 10 girls on my college team were suffering from some form of disordered eating. This behavior became the norm. It became contagious.

It was not until I started getting cuts on my fingers that I realized my occasional binge and purge was turning into an everyday occurrence.  At that moment I knew I needed help. I went to a psychologist who specialized in eating disorders. She told me to write down my feelings before, after, and while I was eating.  Soon my every thought became consumed with food. What to eat. What not to eat.  This experience only made “the bad” worse.

Mid-semester I decided to move out and try a new environment.  My new roommates were not on my college team. Instead, they were bright students that hadn’t played a sport since high school.  I also hung out with a close friend who ate when and what he wanted.  I surrounded myself with people whose thoughts were not consumed by food. Within 3 months I was able to re-learn how to eat healthy, which is why I call it a 3-month phase.  I am not suggesting that you have to hit rock bottom to feel happy or experience an eating disorder in order to learn how to eat healthy, again.  For me, this “bad” was a natural part of my journey. I am suggesting that every person has a different “bad” and that that is okay.

The right time for “the bad”

The feeling of joy that fills your body when you get a job promotion or straight A’s on your report card is defined by that feeling you had when you lost a job or failed a test.  The up is only put into perspective by the down. The bigger the struggle the more fulfilling the celebration.  For example, if a runner didn’t need to train everyday to get into shape, then it would be hard for him or her to assign value to winning a race.

Our purpose is not to avoid obstacles or setbacks that keep us from accomplishing our dreams; but instead, our purpose is to rise up to the challenge, be resilient, and enjoy the ride which in turn makes accomplishing the dream that much more rewarding.  There is always a right time for “the bad.” If that time is right now then that is okay because “the bad” is merely a part of the journey.

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall” – Confucius

Thank you for reading

The Good: 3 Things I Learned While Training On My Own

 

This 3-part blog series is happily titled: The Good… The Bad… and The Ugly… of Running

 

Part 1: The Good of Running shares 3 things I learned while training on my own.

 

In 2010 I finished my college eligibility and was left wondering (like the other 3% of athletes who turn pro Source: Business Insider) Do I want to keep training? If so, where will I train? Who will I train with? And will I have a coach?

 

If you are reading this blog then you already know that answer to the first question was YES!  The next series of questions were a bit more challenging to answer.

 

The first year as a pro was rough.  My college coach gave me a few workouts, but for the most part, I was making things up on the fly.  I was running but not hard. I was eating but not well. I was sleeping but not enough.  I ran 2 races — 2:12 and 2:20 something for 800m.  I’ll let you in on a little secret: if I ever run over 2:20 I NEVER look up the results, so I always run 2:20 something.

 

After a disappointing first year out of college, I knew I needed to change my approach to training, especially if I wanted to call myself a professional runner and not a recreational runner.  So I found a coach, Ben Rosario.  Although he lived in a different state he told me exactly what to run everyday, and he held me accountable.  I found a training partner.   Although he only trained with me for 3 months it was the best three months of my life.  But he left me to get his master’s in mechanical engineering at Stanford.  WHAT THE HECK?  I guess I can’t blame him for moving on.  That left me training on my own.

 

Here are the top 3 things I learned while training on my own.

 

1. Run one day at a time

I went into professional running with one goal in mind – to be the best runner in the world – but I failed to focus on the steps that get you there.  Like any other day I arrived at the track to do a workout. But on this particular morning when I got there I started crying.  I waited 30 minutes to calm myself down, but when I went to warm up I started crying again.  The other thing on my mind was school and trying to be the best student in the world.  I thought there was no way I could do both at a high level. I thought I had to quit one, so I could focus on the other.

These “best in the world” goals had to change and inevitably evolved into – be the best runner and student I can be, today.  My new live-in-the-moment mindset served as my framework for setting intermediate goals.  When I arrived at the track I would close the door to the classroom; and vice versa, when I arrived at school I would close the gate to the track.  I focused on one task at a time… eat a good breakfast, read a journal article, or go for a run.  This allowed me to maximize my happiness and enjoy the journey.

 

2. Say “I think I can” when running up a hill

I think it is safe to say that most athletes are competitive people by nature. I am no exception.  There is always someone who will run faster than you and there is always someone who will run slower than you.  Comparing yourself to others can lead to negative self-talk, bitterness, and can be detrimental to your self-esteem.  Running on my own helped me learn the importance of strengthening my mind and “filling my basket” with self-confidence and self-efficacy.  It gave me the opportunity to practice positive self-talk during a hard workout or running up a hill.  Just like the Little Engine That Could who said ““I think I can” when he was traveling across treacherous mountains to his destination.

 

3. Run through the finish line

Courage is hard to find and everyone is searching for it.  I have yet to meet a person who does not want the quality of bravery.  I would argue that courage is the most in-demand quality a person can have.  I committed to running professionally right after college when the decision was easy, there were no hardships, and everything was looking up.  Over the next year running on my own became increasingly hard.  I often thought about giving up.

 

Then I looked up the definition of courage

 

cour·age

noun \ˈkər-ij, ˈkə-rij\

the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous

 

And the definition of commitment

 

com·mit·ment

noun \kə-ˈmit-mənt\

a promise to do or give something

a promise to be loyal to someone or something

the attitude of someone who works very hard to do or support something

 

Commitment IS NOT the act of making a decision when the decision is easy. It is the courage to make a decision when the decision is tough.  I became inspired by these definitions and courageously committed to professional running.

 

Thank you for reading!