Elite runner Kara Goucher was quoted by Outside Magazine about returning to fitness after pregnancy,
“I remember the day where my coach got mad at me. We were doing 200s on the track, and he said, ‘Just run all out. On this one, I don’t want you to look at a watch. I want it to hurt. I want it to be scary. There’s going to come a point where you have to make a decision. Are you going to come back or not? I just want you to run all out.’ And I did. My body didn’t fall apart. I breathed really hard, but my breathing came back into control quickly. I started to feel tired halfway through that 200, but I was able to keep going. It was the day where I finally decided, ‘Okay I’m going to hurt.’ And I survived it. And then the next time I went out to do a harder session, I was a little bit more brave, a little bit more willing to risk, and it all started coming back together. It just turned things around for me and helped me remember that it’s okay to run hard.”
Kara experienced a turning point. This turning point was way more mental than physical. Just like her coach said, she had to make a decision – either she was going to be better or not – and it was her decision to make. Ours is our decision to make.
We have coached hundreds of athletes through these turning points, and it is one of the most rewarding parts of our job. One athlete noted,
“After my run Thursday night, I made the decision to go out hard [in my race] with the goal of running at a 9-minute mile pace. I wasn’t sure if I could do it and briefly considered dropping back to a 9:15pace. What the heck, I thought…leave it all out there…what’s 15 seconds? Well I’m happy & proud to say that I set a new PR & completed the 10k in 55:30. Oh my gosh!!! I still can’t believe it. Next year I can be a seeded runner. Me! I feel myself getting stronger with every workout. With that strength comes confidence, motivation & determination. I am so excited we are finally starting to race.”
The athletic life is less about a single turning point than a series of turning points which combine to bring us to where we are today. Each workout is an opportunity to embrace another turning point. The special thing is that once you cross a threshold, you always know you can go there again, and because of that, it is easier to do so.
When is your next turning point? Approach every workout with the excitement that it might be the one and give 100% to make sure it is.