The question I often get from people is this: Why do you run? To tell you the truth, I run because it’s hard. It takes a lot of guts to run—to be able to get up every morning even when you don’t feel like it. It takes a lot of motivation, too. Sometimes I feel like staying in bed, but I know that if I do, someone is one step ahead of me. Or sometimes I wish I could sleep in, but I know someone else out there is working harder than me. The reason why I run is because it feels natural to me. Unlike any other sport, there are no time-outs or half times. Running is all legs. We don’t stop until the race is over. That’s why it’s so mentally grueling.
I started running at a very young age, which lead me to running competitively. As you can imagine, I was pretty underdeveloped. I had no hips, had not gone through puberty, and I did not feel lactic acid. That’s why I ran so fast. I felt as though I was always under a lot of pressure trying to please my coaches and my family. It began to be a lot to handle for someone my age.
Due to several injuries, I struggled with my mentality, and it is still something I struggle with today. Coming back from injuries is hard, but what is even harder is gaining that strength back just to get injured again. Within the last year, I obtained two major injuries–a quad tear and severe shin splints. I felt like I was in one of those nightmares where you are in a race, and your legs physically cannot move. During that time, that nightmare became a reality for me.
They say that running is 90% mental and the rest is physical. It’s that mental aspect of it all that makes running so tough. You can be in the best physical shape of your life, but if your mind isn’t positive, it’s game over. As you run, your body will tell you to stop running, and that you can’t take anymore, but a strong mind will tell you to handle the pain with strategy.
From all the years I’ve been running, I’ve learned that no matter where you are in your career, you’re going to get hurt. You just have to be patient. I’ve learned that injuries teach you a valuable lesson—to appreciate every moment you have. I’ve learned that it’s a mental battle trying to come back after being injured repeatedly, and most of the time the battle is with myself. I’ve learned that whenever I have bad races or bad practices, to not get discouraged. I’ve learned to remember that everyday you get stronger and are better than you were the previous day. Lastly, I’ve learned that injuries bother you when you aren’t working, but when the gun goes off, you no longer feel anything.