Chelsea’s Chat: Confessions of a Runner

as originally posted on Addaday

Hi, my name is Chelsea and I’m a runner. Running is my passion. Running is my job. Running is my life. I’m obsessed with the idea of personal improvement through running.

I fell in love with distance running even before I was a runner myself. My Dad, a proud Bostonian, was training for the Boston marathon and at the age of five, I had the privilege of biking along side him as he pounded out the miles required to conquer the distance. A few years later he would let me tag along for a couple of miles at the end of his weekend jaunts, but I didn’t start training until I was in high school. At first I was drawn to the camaraderie of high school cross country, but I soon grew enamored with chasing personal bests and competing individually and as a team.

I ran my way to a scholarship at UC Berkeley. I proceeded to injure myself repeatedly until my last year of college, when I qualified for the NCAA championships in cross country, indoor and outdoor track and became an All-American. I was never a superstar, but I believed deep in my soul that I could one day be great. After graduating from Cal I started working with a new coach and devoted my life to my training. Fast forward nine months and I was a two time U.S. national champion.

The road since my first year as a post-collegiate athlete hasn’t been as smooth. I’ve had some great moments, but I’ve also had more disappointments than I care to list here. I’ve moved back and forth across the country to try out new coaches and new teammates. Twice. I’ve been injured and I’ve fallen flat on my face. Many times. Despite all that, this running journey has been exhilarating. And I still have that voice in my head that tells me I will make it one day. So I keep running.

I’m seeking inspiration — from within myself and from the beautiful running community that I am lucky enough to be a part of. The truth is that I fell metaphorically flat on my face about a month ago. I had a bad day at the track on the worst possible day — the U.S. Olympic Trials. My training for the Trials was far from perfect. I was injured in March and April, made a coaching change (again), and struggled to regain the form that I knew I would need to give myself a shot at making the Olympic Team. I took risks in life and in training. I shot a hail Mary. And I failed — I failed big time. I sucked on a grand stage, when the lights were bright. I wasn’t a favorite, but I had been convincing myself for months that I had a legitimate shot.

Initially I walked away from the Trials heartbroken and dejected. Had I been kidding myself that I actually had a shot? How could I have invested four years only to fall apart when I needed to step up? Were all of my efforts, and the efforts of my support team, for naught?

As I look back, my life wasn’t in alignment. I put everything into my training. (“Hermit” comes to mind when I think of my lifestyle the past couple of years.) And I neglected a lot of the other things that I love, and that give my life meaning. I now believe that this laser focus has held me back from realizing my potential athletically, and as a high achieving human being in general. Most importantly, though, this rigidity has taken away from my opportunity to share in this inimitable, dream-chasing extravaganza I like to think of as my Olympic pursuit.

“The ultimate is not to win, but to reach within the depths of you capabilities and to compete against yourself to the greatest extent possible. When you do that, you have dignity. You have the pride. You can walk about with character and pride no matter in what place you happen to finish.” – Billy Mills

I’m ready to see this pro athlete experience through a new lens. I want to be an Olympian more than anything, and I will continue to work towards that. But for me, this end goal is not enough. I NEED to be a great wife, a great daughter, a great sister. I aspire to be a writer.

And I have so many freaking questions. I want to explore the nitty gritty of performance and the human spirit in sport. How does the experience of running mold our lives and enrich our relationships? Running is self-actualizing, and inclusive. Everyone is welcome.

Through the vehicle that is this blog I’m interested in sharing my journey of achieving my dreams through living an active life. I’ll write about the best runners in the country, and I’ll reach out to leading scientists in the industry. And I’ll do my best to give you the inside scoop on how you, yes you, can take your active life to a new level. I’ve had my best performances when I am in love with my running on a day to day basis. I want you to be able to do the same. Stay tuned…

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