Each year offers opportunities to learn and grow
It’s crazy to think that we’ll soon be flipping our calendars to a new year in a couple short weeks. 2022 certainly had its moments of relief and uncertainty. Some aspects of our lives returned to some semblance of normalcy (thank goodness!), but many local and global events are a glaring reminder that we each have a role to play in making this world a better place for others. Kindness is free!
As athletes, we are fortunate to be afforded more opportunities than most to chase our dreams, travel the world and push our perceived limits. For me, this year marked my first full outdoor track season since 2018! It has been one heck of a journey to get here, but I am so thankful for my support team and to be pain free following the latest three- and half-year stint of back-to-back-to-back injuries.
Indeed, this year looked far different than the last few for me, in terms of training, racing and career commitments. Before cracking open my fresh new day planner and delving into all that 2023 could be, I reflected on all that was 2022.
Here are my top 5 takeaways from this year.
- Mindset is everything.
You can be as fit as heck, but if you’re mindset is not in the right place, it’ll be hard to dig deep and test your limits when the going gets tough. Mindset influences how you think, feel and act in any given situation. It plays a part in how we approach our training, relationships, careers, and every other aspect of our daily lives. Studies have shown that mindset plays a significant role in our drive to set goals and achieve them.Honestly, for quite some time, my mindset towards performance has not been great. I spent a lot of mental energy on managing daily plantar fasciitis symptoms, worrying about proving myself and trying to validate my space in the sport. This year I worked hard and put in the mileage, but I was nearly three years removed from the track scene and we were basically building up from ground zero. I was so grateful to be back on the track but dwelled a lot on the fact I wasn’t where I “thought” I should be – perceivably, everyone else was fit and thriving and I was over here in survival mode trying to get through a competitive season on a sore foot.
After some rest and downtime, I learned that your mind and body can and will heal in time. It’ll take a conscious effort to transition to a growth mindset, but I’m telling you it’s totally worth it. Try starting each day with writing out positive affirmations, what you’re most proud of, grateful for, or excited to achieve. Be raw and honest with yourself and it may just surprise you how impactful that authentic optimism can be on your daily outlook. Also, sport psychologists are awesome – would 100% recommend!
- Dare to be different.
Your journey is unique. Try not to fret about what the top pro or Instagram-influencer runners are or aren’t doing. It is great to get ideas from others but make sure to integrate what is best for YOU – your health, happiness and performance.
I think that as motivated athletes, we sometimes try to incorporate (too) many new things – be it activation exercises, form cues or drills – that doing it all can become overwhelming. At the end of the day, you’re on a pathway to your goals, which should look different than anyone else’s. Embrace it. Be proud of all that you’ve overcome and excited for what’s yet to come.
- Sleep is incredibly important.
Do not sleep on the importance of sleep! It is one of the most underrated performance enhancers out there. You need seven to nine (ideally, more!) hours of sleep to get the most out of training. If you struggle to fall or stay asleep, your mood, mental and physical health, and training will inevitably take a dive.
I go through cycles of good and bad sleep. Whenever I up mileage for the first time in a while, have looming work deadlines I’m not super prepared for, or don’t get outside, I will slip into stretches of insomnia. This fall, after nearly having a mental breakdown over lack of sleep, I committed to bolstering my bedtime routine and sticking with it – absolute game changer!
Tell someone if you’re having a hard time sleeping and some of the causes of your sleepless nights. Sometimes offloading is what you need to break the bad sleep cycle. Also, the Sleep Foundation has a ton of applicable resources.
- Invest in yourself.
You are your greatest asset and are worth the investment.
This investment could take the form of scheduling time to finish that art piece you started or song you started writing; making a physio or chiro appointment as rehab or prehab; or signing up for that professional development course you’ve had circled for the last few months. Present and future you will be happy you did!
- Listen to your body.
Now read that line again. Elite athletes are in tune with their bodies but also are very good at pushing through pain and discomfort. Injuries, for example, can make our minds resent our bodies. The mentality that our bodies are not responding well to training can lead to “toughing it out” and ignoring the blaring signals our bodies are sending to take a step back.
Alternatively, if you work with your body and listen to what it needs, you can begin to address the root of the problem. This “listening” requires patience and self compassion, which can be challenging, but will make you more resilient moving forward.
I am wrapping up this year with an abundance of gratitude and joy for the sport, something I’ve not been able to say for awhile, AND a pain-free foot 😁 I hope you had a great year, too, and please share any lessons that you’ve learned through 2022.
Here’s to an amazing 2023!