Dear high school self,
Breathe. Please take a moment out of your busy day to look at how far you have come. There have been so many peaks and pits already in your career, and I assure you there are many more to come, but for right now, embrace where you are. The biggest lesson you need to learn is how to keep everything in perspective: Maybe you just came off a great workout, a PR, and nothing in your body is aching: Congrats!
Enjoy this feeling and roll with it! What you're doing is working so keep it up and don't get greedy by sneaking in more because that's when injuries arise. Maybe you just had a crappy race when nearly everyone else on your team got a PR: Celebrate with them and feed off their happiness. Your time will come, but you must be patient and trust the process. Every day isn't going to be your best performance, but every day can be your best effort.
Perhaps you were just diagnosed with an injury and you're out for the rest of the season: Take a day to be upset, then move on and focus on being your best in other aspects of life. Become the best teammate, student, musician, friend, and sister you can be. Yes, it does suck to be injured, but I promise goodness will come out of it if you just look. God has a mighty future planned for you and this is part of the journey to get there.
There is an important choice you must make each day when practicing perspective. In whatever you encounter, ask yourself: Is this going to affect me, and how is this going to make me the best me that I can be? For the first question, it's important to realize that a lot of things that stress you out are simply not worth the worry.
- A bad workout does not automatically equate to a bad race. Sometimes you just have an off day!
- It's okay to feel tired and run slower than usual some days. Your body just needs a little more recovery if you want to feel fast tomorrow.
- If you want dessert, eat it (in moderation of course). Your body digests food quickly, so I promise the cookie you ate at dinner really won't affect your workout the next day.
- A day off is okay, and in fact it's sometimes just what your body needs in order to function at its best. Muscles can only rebuild stronger if you give them the opportunity to.
- Injuries are temporary. Your talent is still there, you just need to practice awhile to get back to where you were. Focus on the season as a whole and even your career as a whole. You have your entire life ahead of you and this too will pass.
As coach always says, "Control the controllables." Don't freak out when something isn't exactly as you plan because it will only negatively affect your performance if you tell yourself it will.
As for the second question, it's easy to see how fast workouts, a good night sleep, and strength training, etc. make you the best you can be, but you must ask yourself this question amid your bad days.
- When you're injured: What can I do while I'm hurt to become a better runner and teammate?
- When you have a bad race: Where did things start to go downhill and what can I do to be better next time
- When you are feeling burned out: How can I be mentally tougher during this time when running isn't my favorite thing to do? How can I switch things up to regain my enthusiasm?
The lows you experience now will make the highs even more fulfilling.
Whether you are currently experiencing a highlight in your running career or an ultimate low point, remember that it's just running. Running is something you like to do and something you're good at, but it isn't who you are. You want more than anything for people to remember you by your words and actions and not by a time or a place. Records will be broken but the impact you can have on others is lasting. Please keep doing what you love, keep pouring your heart into your passion, and keep striving to break those records, but don't let running control you. At the end of the day, you're just another person trying to make this world a better place.
Good luck, I believe in you,
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Photo Credit Tim Creason/ND Insider