Athletics you have made me cry more times than I can count, you’ve made me experience levels of exhaustion I didn’t think possible, but at the same time I’ve shared with you some incredible memories, and happy times. Running literally got me through my early teenage years, I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without it.
In so many ways it increased my self confidence, taught me how powerful my body is, and has brought me so many amazing friends. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about athletics and what it has taught me, not only about myself but about life.
YOU ARE YOUR BIGGEST MOTIVATION
Once you step out onto the track, or one the start line you are surrounded by a field of competitors, but something I’ve learned through life and through training is that you are your biggest competitor. Stay focused on what you are doing, rather than focusing your attention on what someone else is doing. I especially have found this when it comes to warming up prior to a race, you find yourself looking around at others and thinking “Is that what I should be stretching?” “She’s got her spikes on, should I? You know what works for you, whether that’s in your warm up, gym sessions, race tempo’s ,etc. This goes for life too, don’t compare your journey through life with somebody else’s.
NOT ALL RUNS/TRAINING’S WILL GO YOUR WAY
Not every training session will be a good one, neither will every run or race. Even when you feel like you are in the shape of your life, sometimes thinks just don’t go your way. And you can’t expect to be reaching PB’s time and time again, like all sports, it’s a sport that involves lot’s of discipline and patience. I personally went quite a few years without breaking any lifetime bests, and on many occasions asking myself, why do I keep running? However the answer is always simple: I just can’t let it go. Not every session will be a great one, but each individual race or session is a learning curve, and they all add up to where you are wanting to go. Each sessions adds up, trust your progress.
DEDICATION AND FAILURE
Running can teach you so much about discipline and dedication, it teaches you to keep pushing even when you can’t push any more. You learn how to prioritize and look after yourself properly, from your nutrition, to your sleep and most importantly it has taught me to prioritise setting time out of my day, to get it done. However it can also teach you to embrace failure, I have had races when looking back on videos it literally looked like I’d forgotten how to hurdle, I’ve had races where I’ve fallen flat on my face. Both of these taught me a lot as an athlete and what I needed to improve to make it better. Each mistake is not to be forgotten and pushed aside, there is a need to let go of your ego and embrace that Failure will happen every now and then.
THERE IS ALWAYS ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
Continuing on from the previous point, comes improvement. You are always going to find something you suck at, whether that be hurdle drills, cone runs, speed drills, throws, cross country, mountain races, etc.. There will always come a time when you come across someone doing something effortlessly and you feel like you have two left feet. Remember you need to let go of that Ego of yours and trust that you are not going to be good at everything but everything adds up. One of the things I love the most about running is the fact that there are no mirrors, no one is judging and each to their own.
Running may be an individual sport, but a huge aspect that makes the journey so special for me has been the amazing talented individuals I’ve met along the way. There will be days when you really don’t want to train, but knowing your friends are there waiting for you makes it worth the while. I’ve cried of laughter with my training partners, shared genuine tough conversations while freezing in an ice bucket, and traveled to some incredible cities creating memories together that will last a life time. I didn’t always fit in at school, and neither did my uni mates understand why I was ditching parties for sessions, but through this sport I found a truly amazing support group, surrounding myself with others who share the same goals and mindset. With running you will come across complete strangers cheering you on even if you are dead last or win the race.
There are so many things that can take away from the pure joy of the sport, pressure from coaches, from parents and even from yourself, so remember to LAUGH! Don’t forget to enjoy what you are doing, don’t take it too seriously every day, training like life should be fun. And remind yourself it’s also ok to take a step back, and let go on occasion. When it comes to your mental health, sometimes you just get burnt out, especially when training for a specific race or event, it can be easy to forget with the pressure why you are doing this in the first place. That’s why I find it so beneficial taking a complete month off at the end of every season, and enjoy those things you may not be able to during the season.
Athletics has made me cry, laugh and love, there are so many lessons I take from the sport. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have so many incredible memories from the sport, these five points will follow me through life, and I look forward to continue to learn and grow from it.
What has your sport or fitness journey taught you?