It’s been a little over three weeks (dang, is that it???) since I’ve been back in Tucson and I’m happy to announce that I feel great. Actually, that’s my mental state of being, my physical state is one of great pain as a matter of fact because I had such a hard practice yesterday coupled with a weight room session that kicked my butt that I woke up today feeling like I got run over by a Mack truck. I had to bend over to pick something up earlier today and you would have swore I was 80 years old. But it’s all part of the process and I welcome it. But back to my mental state…it’s a great relief to feel like I really belong here. There has been no doubt or apprehension in the last couple of weeks and that’s something I am really grateful for because it makes the idea of buying in to what I’m doing 100%, so easy. If you recall, back when I was making this decision, I had a very tough time deciding what was going to be best for me. If there has been one thing I have learned over the course of my post-collegiate career, it is that wherever you are, whatever you are doing, you must be on board whole heartedly to be successful. I missed that boat a couple of times and I suffered greatly for it.
Some people might wonder why I even decided to leave Arizona in the first place after I was done with college. Since I’m quite sure this is a burning question on everyone’s mind, I decided to answer it in more depth. I also believe that there are probably many athletes just out of college who will struggle and question things just like I did, and I’m all about sharing what I’ve learned to help anyone who might possibly gain something from it. If this is not a burning question of yours, you can go join the debate in the next post down to keep yourself entertained. ?
My first year out of college was what I’d call disastrous. At the time, I had no idea why. I’d been part of this program for four years and I’d done well, then all of the sudden, once this sport became my career, things started shifting so fast and I felt so lost and confused. I actually remember panicking my very first race as a post-collegiate. It was a rinky-dink race that I ran early in the year but I ran horribly and I all of the sudden felt like I was no longer good and I freaked out. Right then and there I pretty much decided my fate for the rest of the year without knowing it. I might have said this before but it bears repeating; This sport is 99% physical and 1% mental, but it’s the 1% mental that determines the 99% physical. Once you lose your confidence and your belief in yourself, you’re done. Like stick a fork in you, done. It’s crazy because I had spent the last 4 years learning how to build up that confidence and honing it in a way that made me very, very successful. It was nothing I ever thought about, but it was always there and something that was just part of me.
Going through a year of that made me lose hope in a lot of things, mainly the program and the coach that had made me successful to begin with. At that time I was certain that the problem was not me, it was everything else. I had “outgrown” the whole college system, I needed to be around more professionals and have a coach that I could learn more from, I needed to train differently…the list goes on and on. Perhaps there may have been a little truth to some of those feelings, but the biggest factor in what had happened is that I had lost faith in myself, and I did not see this clearly enough. So I left...feeling as though there must be bigger and better things that were out there for me.
I’m not exactly sure at what point I started to understand where my change in performances were really coming from, but over the years I have gained such a better understanding of how all things work together to produce a great athlete and I began to realize that what I was lacking was not something I was going to find in another coach, program, or situation. I needed to work on myself and I needed to change the way I processed a lot of things because it was holding me back. I could go in depth with this, but perhaps I’ll save that for another blog. Needless to say, much of it is easier said than done. Confidence is such a fragile thing and once you lose it, it can be a long road back. It took me 3 years since I finished college to simply get back to being able to perform at a comparable level and it wasn’t until last year that I was able to PR for the first time since 2001.
So the decision to come back to Tucson this year and train with my old coach was based primarily on the fact that hindsight is 20/20 and I am able to realize now how nothing but myself was really wrong with this situation to begin with. And now that I have spent the last 5 years of my life trying to correct the damage that I caused, I feel that I will be able to perform and succeed to the level that I am capable of. I am not 100% where I want to be but I am oh so close. The fact that I am here and glad that I’m here says so much. The fact that I have decided to trust this situation completely…no second guessing, no thinking I might have a better way, no wondering if I should be doing this or that…none of that. I feel like it’s the biggest game of poker and I’ve pushed all my chips into the center. I’m all in.