Progress comes in many forms

from In the Arena with Bridget

“If there was a ’magic bullet’ in running training, it would be CONSISTENCY.”

I heard this statement from my college coach early on in my career. With more and more experience, I was more and more convinced it was the truth. Consistency was something that I really began to strive for and I was very proud to be able to look back on my time at Penn State and say that it was probably the primary reason for my progression and success. By my senior year I had made it to every single NCAA championship (Cross country, indoor track and outdoor track) for four straight years without an injury or huge break of time off. That year I was also strong enough to be able to help my team out by running the mile, 3k, and 5k at the indoor conference championships and the 1500 (with prelims), steeple, and 5k at the outdoor championships. I ran my fastest time in the steeplechase later that year (which is only a few seconds off my PR today) and capped it all off with an individual national championship title.

There is no shortcut to achieving consistency because the passing of time is part of the definition. Along the journey, you must overcome one barrier after another, never knowing what the next will be or how to prepare for it until it is upon you. Even waking up in the morning can be a struggle with sore muscles and a mind longing for a break from the mental focus necessary to keep pushing forward. It takes careful planning, preparation, forward thinking to stack one day, one month, one successful year on top of another without a hiccup. There is nothing more elusive and difficult to achieve in sport.

For me, this was all the evidence I needed to be convinced that consistency was what it took to be truly successful.

*****

Setting out this year, my “hard” goals were to run sub-9:20, qualify for the Olympics, and finish higher than I did in 2012. My “soft” goals were to appreciate running more (have more fun with it) and not let it define who I am as a person as much. Consistency was my strategy- how I was going to do accomplish all this. The last few years had not been as consistent for me, resulting in stress and the need for more serious focus and control. But this was going to be the thing that was going to be different this year. Consistent physical training would allow me to loosen up, trust more, and have more fun overall- back to my college self.

I got off to a good start- having a great fall and winter of consistency but in February, my hamstring tweaked. I tried with all my power to push through and ignore it, desperately clinging to the hope of preserving my precious consistency. However, the muscle had weakened and now refused to heal while I was still on the move. It happened three more times before I decided that resting it completely was the only thing that would give me the hope of showing up to the Trials healthy in a few months (no guarantees, of course).

My consistency was shattered, forcing me to abandon the strategy I was counting on to achieve my goals.

This is life. It is the risk you take in setting any goal for yourself. Things like this come up- unplanned, unwelcomed, heart-breaking. In order to get through, remain positive, learn from, and move on, you have to be able to shift your mindset and gain new perspectives. You have to be able to set new goals and be content with them even if they are less ambitious than the original. The Trials are going to be an amazing, amazing event. I will be so honored and excited to potentially toe the line regardless of the outcome….shift my mindset….gain new perspectives….stay positive……

…….but I really don’t want to give up just yet….

I return to the quote:

“If there was a ‘magic bullet’ in running training, it would be consistency.”

………wait a second……

The quote is not: “The magic bullet in running training is consistency.”

It is “If there was a ‘magic bullet’ in running training, it would be consistency”

For every story of success through perfect consistency, real track fans could tell you a sister story of a hard-knock, down-and-out, never-in-a-million-years, completely unpredicted breakthrough performance. (I’m certainly not there yet…) but the point being: There really is NO magic bullet for running training.

Success in running is a product of many factors…….physical work X mental perspective/attitude/preparation X experience X natural ability X confidence/belief X God’s grace/Luck….the list could go on….And the Olympic Trials in particular is a not your typical meet. The equation is weighted differently- skewed more towards things like Mental prep, Experience and Confidence/Belief than your average competition. Fortunately, at this point in my career, these can play greatly to my advantage.

Yes, through this injury my perspective has changed. I am continuing to chisel, mold, and progress myself toward my ultimate goals but my methods are changing. I have been able to focus on some very important aspects of preparation that I have not previously had time and energy to properly address. I’ve found that with my new perspective some of my goals have gotten considerably tougher (i.e. physical ones of competing with girls who are putting in work while I recover)….but others have actually gotten easier (i.e I actually have less anxiety and more positive excitement around the thought of the Olympic Trials!).

Only time will tell whether or not I am just trying to make myself feel better with all this or if there is actually something behind it. I choose to believe that my ultimate goals need not be changed just yet simply because my path leading there has been altered. Really, it always has been up to God whether I make it to the starting line of the Trials healthy and fit or not and what the outcome will be. Crazier things have happened. All the more glory to Him.

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