By Chelsey Jones
“When you recognize that failing doesn’t make you a failure, you give yourself permission to try all sorts of things.” – Lauren Fleshmen
It was 4 days before my event. Months of training, discipline, adequate rest and recovery, and all that went through my head was “No, thank you, I’d rather not
run hard. Easy sounds good. Do I really have to do this?”. Despite all the proper training leading up to my race a voice in my head was there filled with what ifs and doubts. It was almost as though someone was going to have to pull me to the start line while I was kicking and screaming.
I have a coach who is fantastic, awesome, and challenges me to grow in many different ways. When I contacted her about concerns with racing the event she
pretty much said because you don’t want to race it, I think you should. You see, I struggle with this thing called pressure. Pressure to perform at my very best,
pressure to beat everyone around me, and pressure to have better results than I have in years past. Pressure so intense I pretty much want to crawl in a hole and hide, or at least not race. Give me friends and easy runs any day, but to put it all out there and see what I got, hmmmm, I dunno that’s a little different.
It took me a few days of thought and deliberation to decide that if I did not race it I would walk away wondering what I could of done. We are always going to
have voices in our head. Some of all the great things we can do, reminders of all our strengths, of everything we’ve worked for. But we’re also going to have voices of doubt, wondering if we really can do it, and what if we fail.
Each race I have competed in has taught me a lesson. Lessons about pacing and the importance of not going out to hard. Lessons about nutrition, what to do, and what definitely NOT to do. Lessons about mental toughness and how to push even when it feels like you can’t go on, but none of these lessons share the same importance as the lessons I learn leading up to a race. I have learned that when I line up at a race, or even a hard workout, it is not my performance that defines me. Failing, or not doing as well as I hoped for does not make me a failure. Far from it. Putting myself out there and giving it my best is what helps me to become a better athlete. Setting aside the competition and focusing on the joys of challenging myself and pushing myself right to that edge, just to see what I’m made of, that’s where I find growth.
I have been told many times that running is 10% physical and 90% mental. I have always thought about this during a race, but what if it’s not just while we are running that we are in that mental battlefield. Perhaps it’s the lessons we learn while in preparation that help us to grow into better athletes. I made it to the start line that day, focused on having fun and doing the best I can. Reminding myself that it’s not about winning or losing, it’s about going out there and giving it my all, whatever that may be.