I spent the majority of my high school track career pouting, bawling, and crying to my coach about why I was such a horrific athlete. It killed my parents to see their daughter beat herself up after every single performance. I was a hopeless fusspot burdened with an eating disorder that I thought would make me run faster (but only destroyed my body) and deadly perfectionism.
Now, as a collegiate runner, I’ve changed. A lot. In fact, my parents, coaches, and former high school teammates are baffled at how much I’ve changed as an athlete and as a person. In high school, I was 100% devoted to whittling down to an unrealistic race weight that did make me fast in the short-term, BUT I ended up with a stress fracture, osteoporosis, a damaged running career, and broken relationships. In other words, focusing on my weight throughout my training ruined me as a runner and as a functioning human being.
Now, I don’t focus on weight. I focus on training, recovering, and eating a balanced diet. I know that if I focus on these three things then the right “race weight” for me will come right along.
How I went from becoming a pessimistic, weight-obsessed, perfectionist athlete to a positive and self-loving one is all because of my teammates. They say you are the people you surround yourselves with and I think that is so true. Running at George Mason, I am surrounded by people who are so good at staying strong amidst physical and emotional hardship, so good at telling themselves that they really can reach their goals, so good at just having fun with the race, so good at being happy with who they are. Being around these people so much has made me cultivate a much healthier mindset, and I haven’t felt this happy with myself in a long time.
If it wasn’t for my teammates, I would have quit running by now because I would’ve been telling myself that I’ll never be good enough. Because of them, I do feel good enough. In fact, after my 3,000 meter indoor race, I came in dead last (it was my first race coming back from an injury). Yes, dead last. However, I returned to a group of teammates who cheered for me and hugged me as if I had qualified for the Olympics.
Now there are people out there who will say “great job” just because they feel like they have to, or because they don’t really know what a “great job” is in the track world, but I could tell that my teammates genuinely thought I gave it my all, and that meant so much to me.
Sometimes, it’s hard to tell if you are in a good spot in your life. I think the best way to make sure you are is to look at the people you’ve surrounded yourself with: are your coworkers/teammates/neighbors/friends building you up and helping you become healthier emotionally, or are they doing the opposite and making you feel like you aren’t enough?
Face it. You can’t build yourself up and become a better person all by yourself. You need a support system. I’m lucky enough to have an incredible and inspirational one that is my George Mason XC and Track family.