I have always been part of a team. From tee ball through college. A team of women training and racing together creates this unbelievable energy that permeates the group. Crossing the finish line and celebrating with other women who share in your struggles makes the whole ride worth it. Being part of something bigger than myself was so important when choosing a college team…so why do I take the path of the lone wolf now?
I don’t want to be only a runner. Joining an elite group requires me to put my career on hold. In college I didn’t perform at my best making running my sole focus. I needed other things in my life to give me purpose.
Taking ownership of my training has taught me much about myself. There is no one to compare myself to on a daily basis. If my body is tired I take it easy. On morning runs I dictate the pace. I pick the routes. I control the effort. Every single day. Running solo forces me to dial into my body and listen to it’s internal cues on every run and every workout. To be honest, I enjoy the time alone. Running is my escape from a rough day and it is on those runs I push the reset button on my day.
Is it easy?
No. Running can be selfish and isolating. There are days and weeks when I lack motivation to get out the door. There are tough workouts. And with my coach 1,200 miles away in Texas, it can be easy to take my foot off the gas or come up with excuses. There are days when I miss having teammates at my side to pull me through the rough patches. There are days when I miss representing something bigger than myself. This hit hard at the 2016 Olympic Trials. It was scary standing on the starting line with no one to turn to for comfort or reassurance.
But this is my journey and it works. It builds strength and character. And it makes me relentless and tough. It makes the daily struggles worth it. It gives me a chip on my shoulder when I race. And most importantly, it keeps running a passion; not a job. It makes me who I am today. A runner.