"I'm learning that prioritizing myself over my sport sometimes will not hinder my success as an athlete. In fact, I'll be a happier person, I'll be more in tune with myself and this will ultimately allow me to run better than I ever could have done before."
It may sound contradictory not to prioritize your sport.
But for someone like me, learning to do this has saved me from destruction in my sport. For a very long time, I was so invested in running that it was an obsession. My entire identity rested on how I did in running, how I ate, the little things I was doing outside of training to get better and the sacrifices I was making to set myself apart from others.
I was solely fueled by these things and I was happy with my life because running was going well. My sacrifices were worth it and I was convinced this was how I wanted to live my life. I was a runner ... and that's it.
The sad truth is that living and thinking this way is not sustainable. I did not realize this until running was taken away from me due to injuries and my identity was crushed. Although I could still cross train, I no longer felt like I had a deep purpose anymore. Because my identity in running held so much power, I questioned everything about my life. The amount of self worth I put into what I DID rather than who I WAS, was destructive.
I didn't know how to be more than an athlete and have a purpose beyond results.
It's not easy to change. From my past to the present day, I am still on a journey working toward reframing my identity, both in and out of my sport. The hardest part I've found is understanding that it's one thing to know you are more than what you do, and another thing to live like it.
I still question how it's possible to be the best without being "obsessed" and doing everything possible to get better. But I've come to realize that there is a healthy way to identify in your sport that actually leads to you making smarter, better decisions for yourself as an athlete, being more consistent, conserving energy, having a better perspective and being happier.
When your happiness and purpose in life does not depend on your sport, it'll help you be more in tune with your needs as a whole person, which will translate into being a better athlete and knowing what you need to be your best. Now when I experience a small setback or challenge, I'm able to know that I'm going to be okay, which allows me to remain focused and consistent, which helps me stay the course to becoming a champion and reaching my goals.
From my past to the present day, I am still on a journey working toward reframing my identity, both in and out of my sport. The hardest part I've found is understanding that it's one thing to know you are more than what you do, and another thing to live like it.
However, I also know that in hard times it is important to prioritize myself and do other things that make me happy OUTSIDE of my sport. If that means I'm having a bad mental day and I need to take a day off to prioritize my mental health, I now know that is okay. That's not to say that I should do that every week, but knowing what you need as a whole person is an important part of having an identity outside of sport and will carry over into being a better athlete.
The most important thing to realize is that no matter how well things are going in this present moment, you will inevitably experience setbacks and challenges throughout your career. In order to be equipped to handle these setbacks and challenges, which most often include things not going well or losing your sport for a period of time, you have to know how to stay happy without your sport serving you, or without you being able to serve your sport to fuel your happiness and success.
When you know that your worth and identity is not dependent upon results, it will allow you to be able to stay calm when you don't have a good workout, when an injury pops up, or when a race doesn't go the way you wanted it to.
The truth is, there is so much more to life than your sport. In my younger years, my sport was enough to fulfill me completely. But now that my identity does not exist completely within running, I am actually finding I'm in a better place to reach my potential and work toward my goals.
I'm learning that prioritizing myself over my sport sometimes will not hinder my success as an athlete. In fact, I'll be a happier person, I'll be more in tune with myself and this will ultimately allow me to run better than I ever could have done before.
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