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
noun \ˈkər-ij, ˈkə-rij\
the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous
And the definition of commitment
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!