It’s finally here. Cross country season is in full effect- watch tan lines, long miles, and mornings spent at xc meets.
While I personally haven’t “raced” a meet yet I am looking forward to our first real meet this coming Saturday after six months of nothing but training.
However, I wasn’t always excited for this meet to come.
Having spent the majority of my summer in a boot and the rest “attempting” to get in solid mileage, coming back for cross country my emotions ranged from stressed to excited to anxious and everything else in between imaginable. Why? Because day one of practice for us is a time trial.
To be clear I LOVE racing. I love competing, but I hate these time trials for cross country for three main reasons:
- Cross country is not my forte, I’ve always had trouble with it as it tends to leave me injured in some way or another
- I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself (sometimes for no reason) and overthink how much others expect of me, specifically my coach.
- These times dictate all our paces and workouts for the season leading up to race day so if you blow it, you can leave knowing you won’t be in the lead training group.
Needless to say coming back to campus for pre-season still nursing my almost healed leg I couldn’t help but look at all my teammates, seeing how well their training had gone over the summer and feel inadequate about what my performance would be like. The morning of the time trial I woke up early after a sleepless night, rolled out my legs, and kept replaying the same line in my head “this is going to be awful, I’m going to let coach down, everyone else is SO much better”.
Since running is a mental sport my self-prophesying came true. My time trial was shit. I went from being the second fastest last year to second slowest this year. While my legs actually felt okay-ish my mind was a big jumbled negative mess.
The next week of training I continued to lag behind my teammates at what felt like a grandma pace on runs that were supposed to be easy. The same runs that were easy for me last year were more difficult than ever and I struggled with my time trial results and mental outlook on the season.
Then I saw something. While perusing online as I often do at night I found this image.
It’s nothing special or paramount, just one word on a plain background and sometimes that’s all it takes.
This image reminded me that while I may be behind, struggling, and feeling weak I am still RISING.
Like everything else in life coming back takes time, sometimes even more than we feel is necessary. The patience and effort are beyond what’s usually required and above all else, a positive outlook on the future is necessary to move forward.
This meant not comparing my current fitness to others around me or even my former self, something I have a bad habit of doing in almost every aspect of my life having an almost stereotypical type-A personality.
This little image for me was that little reminder, that little boost of positivity I needed to help carry me back toward a less stressed, more accepting version of myself ready to take the steps needed to grow.
I am still rising, still growing, and still progressing.
I’m not failing at healing. I’m not failing during my runs, I’m not weak or slower than everyone else.
I’m just not there yet.
I didn’t know if I’m going to be able to have the season I wanted to or if I’d be able to run alongside my teammates the way I’d like to be able to.
In my heart, I know that this phase of my life is temporary, it is fleeting, it’s not forever. So while I’m here, while I’m rising I need to be patient and enjoy the process back.
Not comparing myself to others or myself, I’m improving. My legs feel good, my mileage is slowly increasing at my own rate, and I have a more optimistic outlook for the year.
I’m writing this because I know I’m not the only one rising, whether it’s coming back from injury, trying to improve general health, or just growing as a human being, everyone needs that little reminder to take a positive outlook on the growth process, hopefully, this is yours.