Recently, one of my friends on twitter asked me if or how my perspective as an athlete has changed since I began studying sport psychology so I figured why not answer that question! If you are interested in my reason for going back to school I explained that in a previous post. Believe it or not, I have given plenty of thought to how this would influence my own performance as an athlete–it has been a blessing to say the least.
Since starting grad school my perspective as an athlete has changed in more ways than one. As soon as I started school I found that I have substantially less time to focus on my own athletic goals and aspirations because a large portion of the time that I previously spent focusing on my own running is now spent studying, writing papers, and doing other assorted assignments for school. During the fall I struggled with this periodically. I had a few meltdowns, skipped a few runs, lost A LOT of sleep, and felt overwhelmed more than I would have liked. Then I remembered that the reason I was in school was directly linked to running and I calmed down. I now have a new perspective. My new perspective is that being an athlete, a successful athlete, is a balancing act. Something good came out a stressful fall though, I eventually viewed my situation as an outsider would. I thought of myself as if I were someone else and I gave myself the same advice that I would give another person. I told myself that I needed to sort out my priorities. I made some personal changes, ones I won’t go into detail about because I don’t want to write a 5,000 word blog post, but they were beneficial. I instantly felt better when I let a few responsibilities go, asked for help with things I needed help with, and took the time I needed to assess my priorities. Sometimes I take on to many things and the best piece of advice that I can offer to anyone is to learn to say NO! Do not do develop ‘compulsive yes syndrome’, and only commit to things that you truly want to commit to. This also gave me a new perspective on handling stress appropriately because I learned very quickly how to eliminate unnecessary stress. The fact that I read several chapters on stress and anxiety this semester may have been beneficial but that is still debatable. Aside from managing and eliminating stress, the key thing that stood out to me this fall was that I needed to believe in myself. This is something that I already knew but it needed to be reinforced, and it was reinforced almost instantly actually. I know it seems simplistic but believing in myself really did help me. I found a great deal of focus in one specific race this fall simply because I ran and I didn’t think, instead of thinking I believed in my ability. After that my training went phenomenally. Every workout pointed toward a PR at xc nationals. My races in between weren’t great because of various unfortunate events but my workouts were the best workouts I ever ran. Yes, the key to this was that I believed in myself. My confidence was higher than usual, and I believed my training was solid. What a difference that can make, seriously. Going back to school was the best way to reinforce everything that I already knew, preached, and believed in. I just hadn’t been practicing it and you know what they say, practice what you preach. So I did. It was really awesome. Then that ended when I couldn’t run at xc nationals because I was suddenly very sick with a week long migraine and numb hands and feet. I had to stop running entirely for a few weeks and that really hit me hard. I had a few days that I hated the world because the situation I was in was really miserable, but I also had a few good friends who helped me hate the world less and feel less miserable. Then, I slowly started to feel better and recently I slowly started to run again. It isn’t easy. This whole experience hurt me mentally. I felt like everything I have ever worked toward was gone. I felt like I was never going to catch up or get back to where I once was. I felt defeated and then I remembered that I needed to remain confident. I actually studied similar things in school this semester. When an athlete struggles with sickness or injury they usually do feel defeated or some variation of defeated, I am no different than every other athlete in the world. The thing that I remembered from my classes was that confidence is the key to overcoming this. Thankfully, this was all fresh in my mind during the weeks I spent feeling horrible and these past 2 weeks when I slowly started running again. I can’t run like I was running in early November but I think I will be able to get there and beyond by the spring. Going back to school for sport psychology has helped me. I am stronger mentally than I was before I made this commitment. I may not be as physically strong as I was a few months ago but I can assure you that this whole experience has been life changing thus far. I truly believe that I a doing this now because I need to be doing this now. If I wasn’t in school right now while I am experiencing the things I am experiencing my perspective would be less than positive. I don’t think I would have this same outlook on the situation otherwise. I suppose this is why I wasn’t meant to do this right after college…..I needed to do it more now than I did then.