"Stop looking ahead, stop looking behind, and stop looking at everyone else. Focus on what's happening now, take one day at a time, and one run at a time."
~ U of CO Senior, Dani Jones, in a letter to her younger self
w/ my dear friend and Colgate teammate, Merri Wade
Last Thursday I was forced inside for both of my runs due to a crazy winter storm. Well, it was actually 50 degrees outside, but there was flash flooding and gale force winds, so going out wasn't safe. It was a bit heartbreaking that I couldn't get on the road in those warmer temps. But, I digress. I'm fine with one run on the belt, but heading back inside for the second one was rough. I needed some serious help to get through it and my music wasn't cutting it. Thankfully, I recently discovered Mario Fraioli's podcast, The Morning Shakeout, and one of his interviews was just the distraction I needed to slog through six additional mind-numbing miles on the machine. I opted for his session with former pro-runner and all around awesome woman, Lauren Fleshman, turned it up and settled in. He touched on her role as an athlete, a coach, a mom, owner of Picky Bars and so much more. It's an awesome podcast and, whether you're a runner or not, I highly recommend it. One of the things that really caught my attention was when Fraioli asked Fleshman, knowing what she knows now, what she would tell her younger self. It's such a great question and one that we could all likely put some serious thought into, right? As a 43 year old wife, mom, runner, and coach, I have learned so much over the years, gained so much knowledge, learned so many lessons. I would love to go back and share some of it with the sixteen year old, wide-eyed Rebecca who was stepping on the track for the first time in the spring of her junior year in high school. Even super driven, goal hungry college-aged Rebecca who thought she had it all figured out, (ha!) could have used a letter from older me. It might not be the same message, but it would be just as valuable, probably more so. As I ran and listened, I thought about the things I would have included in a letter to young Trax. A lot of them were similar to those that Lauren mentioned. Things like it's not the destination its the journey. Turns out I'm still figuring this one out. But, I do try to remind myself of it daily. Or, don't care what people think so much. Just be yourself. This one is huge. I used to get really caught up in what others thought, always aiming to please regardless of how it felt to me. I was constantly worried about letting people down if I didn't perform my best, which happened a lot my senior year due to injury. I often felt like a failure. It was such a stressful state of mind and so unnecessary. I try and remind my high school athletes as well as my own girls of this one as much as possible. Days later, I found myself still thinking about Fraioli's question. I keep a journal in my bag and I started keeping a running list of things I might have wanted to know way back when. I can't change young Rebecca's outlook at this point. But, I can share my list with others and hope that maybe it will make a small impact or even just generate some thought. Perhaps someone reading this, whether young or old, will stop and re-think the way they are approaching things after going through it. A lot of them are easier said than done. But, I've got to believe that it still helps to hear them at least once if not multiple times. Regardless, it was a great exercise for me and serves as a platform as I start this next stage in my life, both in running and beyond.
DEAR YOUNGER ME,
~ Trust your instincts. Powering through isn't going to get you anywhere and will set you back even further. If it doesn't feel right, don't do it.
~ Communicate with your coach. If you're not sure why you're doing something, ask. If you want to now how to change something, talk about it. If you're frustrated, speak up. You have a voice. Use it.
~ Embrace mistakes. They're healthy. We learn from them. We grow because of them. We become who we are as a result of them.
~ Set goals, but don't let them define you. Being top 3 on the team is awesome. But if you're not up there, you're not a failure. Your roll as an athlete is just one small part of who you are.
~ Love your body. Listen to it. Respect it. Give it as much as it gives you. Then give it more.
~ Have more fun. Because you're young. And you can. There's plenty of time to be serious when you're older.
~ Treat yourself. Eat more ice cream. And cookies. And other delicious things. Because they bring you pleasure. And they're tasty. You don't have to "earn it". You're not "cheating" if you indulge. Don't think about it beforehand. Don't analyze it afterwards. Just enjoy it for what it is.
~ Be open to change. If something isn't working, try something different. The tried and true way is not always the right way.
~ Let go. Allow yourself to process things, yes. But, then be willing to move on. Don't dwell on what did or didn't happen. It's a waste of time and energy. Every day is a fresh start.
Listen to this:
Realign by Jiants