As a freshman in college, I fell hard for this myth. I remember standing on the starting line of the 2009 Pre-Nationals Cross Country Meet in Terre Haute, IN in awe of the talented women around me. I also remember about 23 minutes later when I was bringing up the sweep cart in the back of the race completely mortified of myself. Up until this point, I was able to rely on my “natural talent” in running. I did everything that was asked of me at practice in high school and I thought that was enough. It was easy for me to point out that those other women were just more talented than I was.
Fast forward 9 years and I will tell you a little secret. Those women were great because of the hours of dedication they put into their running…at 18 years old I was too naive…I had completely discredited each one of their successes. Each woman on that starting line had some level of talent but it’s what they did with that talent that made some great and some average. They have all struggled. They have all failed. Some chose to stand back up and persevere because they had hope in a great future and others decided they were content.
I want to share some stats from my own running journey —
- After college, 4 out of 4 professional training groups I reached out to said that I wasn’t fast enough but since then, I have PRd in every race distance, qualified for two Olympic Trials and made my first USA XC Team (sure it’s only NACAC but you have to start somewhere!).
- My junior year of college I ran over a minutes slower in the 10,000m than my sophomore year…it was a hard pill to swallow but I also pulled it together to win a Big 12 Indoor Championships 2 years later and qualified then next two years for the First Round of NCAAs in both the 5,000m and 10,000m.
- Since running 2:31.56 at the USATF Marathon Champs and 2:32.04 at the 2018 TCY NYC Marathon, I lost a sponsor and was told “no” by another..but since then I have earned my first USA singlet and PRd in the half marathon (and turns out picking your own racing kit can be fun!).
I’m not sharing this for a pity card. I’m sharing this to prove that everyone struggles and to show that no one is going to hand you success overnight. Despite polite rejection time and again, that passion and dream inside of me hasn’t changed. It’s the same energy I felt at 14 years old when I discovered running and how it can change my life. Sure life has to deal you some good luck here and there but each person has the choice in life to develop their talent into a skill…Angela Duckworth said it best in her book “Grit”…
“…Skill is not the same things as achievement, either. Without effort, your talent is nothing more than your unmet potential. Without effort, your skill is nothing more than what you could have done but didn’t. With effort, talent becomes skill and, at the very same time, effort makes skill productive.”