What Track and Field Taught Me about Life
I spent 12 years of my life in track and field, pursing the big dream of being an Olympic champion. My dream was to be a track & field professional athlete, that dream ended abruptly. It wasn’t a tragic ending, it was a small surprise that turned into the greatest accomplishment of my life. I found out that I was pregnant with my first-born son. At that moment I had to ask myself a couple of questions:
- Why am I doing this?
- Am I going to have a child and go back to Track & Field?
I guess you know what my answers were. I spent my entire track and field experience doing everything right, following all the rules, that was given to me by my coaches. It was hard to believe that I was walking away. In life no matter what your goals and dreams are, you have only 2 questions to ask yourself.
- why am I doing this?
- Is it worth it?
I realize that I love track & field and respect the athletes that have the heart to do it. I also realize that I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my days sleeping, eating, and thinking track & Field. Track & Field requires discipline and patients. Track & Field taught me some valuable lessons in life that I would always hold on to.
Run all the way through the line
In Track & Field even if you believe that you will not win the race, you never give up, run all the way through the line. When you get to that line it doesn’t matter who is in front of you throughout the race. All that matter is who crosses the finish line first. Even if it’s the tip of a finger or a toe, that person will win that race. It can be a tenth of a second difference in their times. Life have a way of knocking the wind out of us no matter what happens keep pushing in a tenth of a second everything can change.
Master your Craft
What you put in does matter. I realize early on in my career that the more I put in, when no one is watching, is the more I get out when everyone is watching. I would go to track & field practice the entire group, but I would go home and practice again. Whatever area I found myself struggling with the most during practice, I would go home and work on it whether by myself, with my coach, or my boyfriend who was also an athlete. Even if I just went for a mile run. I noticed, that every slice of pizza that I passed on was going to be worth it. People often spend time watching television, social media or having conversations that is not helping them grow any better as a person. If anything, it’s making them worst. Whatever you put into your mind, it’s what you will put out into daily life.
Lesson 1: Wake up early
My coach always encouraged me to wake up early, and go eat breakfast. Sounds a little mundane, but it worked. A lot of successful people get up early in the morning. By 5:00 AM they are wide awake. They choose to use their time wisely. I always say that time is the only thing we cannot bottle and buy in store, so use it wisely.
Lesson 2: Patients
Patients is something that every athlete have to learn. We will practice 5-6 days a week, working on getting that time to improve, build muscle mass, endurance, or improve technique or forms. The truth is, those results are not seen right away. We have to do everything that we know to do, even when we don’t see immediate results. Work on your passion even when it doesn’t look like you are making any progress.
Lesson 3: Endurance
No matter how tired we get, we are trained to push through it, because the other athletes wants it just as bad as we do or even more than we do. The minute you give up mentally is the minute the body gives out physically. Giving up is never an option, no matter what you feel physically, keep your mind strong, never give up mentally.
Lesson 4: Expect the Unexpected (push through disappointments)
Things will happen that we cannot control. No matter how well we are trained, and how well we follow the rules, there is a chance that someone will pull pass us and win by a tenth of a second. We may trip over a hurtle, hit the bar during a long jump, miss the mark by ½ of a yard during a shot put. In any case:
Learning from that disappointment and push through it. Most athlete gave up in their minds before their bodies gives up physically. Once the event is over, they realize that they had just enough left in them to push a little harder. When that event is over, the goal is to have no regrets. That means, everything was left on the track or field. No matter if a muscle was pulled, or a hurtle was hit, there should be no regrets. Stay focus on your event. Loosing focus will take your mind off of what is in front of you, and will cause you to lose.
Lesson 5: Look Straight Ahead
Runners are thought to look straight at the finish line. The only place your eyes should be is at the finish line. Where your eyes are your mind is, your body will follow. The time goes by so quickly that you cannot afford to be distracted. We spend 5-6 days a week, 3-6 hours a day, working out and practicing, for a 9-10 second race for sprinters, 2-4 minutes race for a quarter miler, and 7 minutes race for a mile runner.
Track & Field taught me that you have to put in a lot of time to perfect your craft and fuel your passion. You have to put in hours of work to develop your skills, when you may only get a 10 second opportunity to prove yourself.