Everyone that has ever competed in a sport whether recreational or competitively, has been told at one point in time or another that “once you’re an athlete, you’re always an athlete”. I did not realize just what those words would truly mean or what kind of impact they would have throughout my running career.
Once you’ve done something for so long it becomes second nature; It is part of your routine like making coffee in the morning, or driving your car to work. Being a athlete is an identity. Once that identity is compromised and stripped away, there is no direction or motivation to do anything. I could only imagine that others out there can understand the struggle.
There is such a thing as depression for athletes, and I never realized or thought that this would happen to me. The experience is truly painful. It is a mentally, emotionally, and physically draining roller-coaster ride that feels like it has no end. No one else can fully understand or know how you feel, or even why you are so down all the time. You try hard to pick yourself back up, yet you can’t even hold yourself. If you feel like you have no direction, are feeling hopeless, don’t even know who you are as a person, I can tell you there is a light at the end of the tunnel – Keep the faith and hold onto that glimmer of hope! It is going to take some time and soul-searching.
It takes courage to recognize that you are feeling these very feelings right now. You feel like you can’t even identify with who you are because you’re not even close to where you were. But, you will always have that part of yourself no matter how far you are you away from it, it just takes time, patience, and re-identifying your roots.
You may have this thought at this present moment or in the past of, “how can I identify the old me”? It’s recognizing that you have within yourself the power to get back to where you want to be, if not better.
I feel that being able to push through the tough times and persevere is what made me the great athlete I was and still am, deep down! It is comforting knowing that the struggles molded me into the athlete I became. I was determined to push through the pain and it made me stronger. It made me want to work harder to be an even better version of myself to become the best “me”.
Once you get over that hurdle, once you push through that negative mindset, the sky is the limit! You will be able to do anything you set your mind to. Like my coaches told me, “running is half mental, half physical”. That statement has truly guided my personal and professional life.
Redefine who you are, and be even better than you were!
In the pursuit of happiness and health,