It’s been a while since I’ve been home in Greenville. My team and I went to Flagstaff, Arizona for a month of altitude training and then I got to go home to Texas to visit family for the holidays. It’s been six weeks of fun and after having time to reflect on it during my flight back to G-ville, I wanted to share some of the things I’ve learned over these few weeks.
Before going to Flagstaff, I raced a couple road races (one in New York and one in Richmond, Virginia). That was my first time racing since before my stress fracture in the summer and it was definitely fun to be back racing again (even though I didn’t run superrr fast). During the couple weeks I was racing, I was in flats a lot more than I had been in them all fall. The week before leaving for Flag, I started feeling a little discomfort in my Achilles. For anyone who’s followed along on my journey since last year, my summary of last year is that I had problems with Achilles tendonitis in my right Achilles in the fall, I got better and got into training and racing well again, then just as we got into serious racing season I got a stress fracture in my metatarsal that took me out for the summer. All that to say that when I started feeling my Achilles (this time my left one), I was pretty discouraged.
Last year part of the reason I was injured so badly was because when I started feeling something, I kept pushing and I was really bad at telling my coach when I thought I needed to stop. This was partially due to pride because I didn’t want to admit something was wrong and it was also partially because I didn’t want my coach to be “mad” or disappointed in me for being hurt or having to take it easy. So because of pride and the fact that I’m a people pleaser, injuries kicked me down last year (or maybe looking back I kicked myself down). I learned that my coach is for me, on my side, and we have the same goals. That means if I’m hurting, we’re both disappointed at the same thing and that’s not disappointment in me as a person, we both know I’m working hard, it’s frustration at the situation. The only reason he would be disappointed in me is if I’m not communicating with him about something that’s going on (which is then a person problem and I need to check my pride). All that to say that this year when I started feeling my Achilles, I told him my coach right away. What was a six-week injury last year turned into me cross training for a couple days at the beginning of Flagstaff this year, not missing any major workouts, and taking care of an issue quickly and efficiently so that it hasn’t bothered me since. My take away from that part of the trip is that pride comes before a fall; sometimes you have to set aside pride and communicate with people who are trying to reach a goal with you because in the end you’re on the same team.
After the little Achilles issue, I got back to regular training. A normal day was basically wake up, drink coffee and spend some time with God (this trip I was reading Proverbs!), drive out with the team to some sweet trails or wherever we were going to workout, run/workout, get some food, go to physio or hang out for a little while (sometimes downtown drinking coffee other times searching Spotify for jams), second run/crosstraining/strength and core work, and then dinner/relaxing and watching White Collar with my training partner Erin. That was the day pretty much every day. It’s not crazy exciting or anything but because of that, there are a couple takeaways:
- Sometimes, working towards a goal is mundane and just hard work. It’s not one day you wake up and you’re good at something. It’s working every day doing the same thing over and over because you’ve planned the work and now you are working the plan. You trust the process, sometimes not seeing results right away but still you trust and you do the things every day.
- The little things are what make the hard work fun (because I do love my job). The little things like seeing beautiful views from trails and feeling small, like trying reallyyyy good coffee downtown because you need something to help you through second session, like inside jokes with your training partners and laughing so hard during a run that you could possibly die because there’s already a lack of oxygen up there, like looking at all the people like your training partners and coaches and physios and being amazed that they’re so invested in your journey, like making tacos with your training partners at night because tacos are awesome, like stopping at that little restaurant to get a giant, warm, delicious sandwich on your way back from workout. Little things like that. Simple joys that make the mundane exciting and adventurous.
Flagstaff was awesome. After a month of training, I got to go back to the homeland in Plano, Texas to visit the fam for Christmas! I love being around my family because they are awesome and because most of the time I’m around people in the running world so being around them gives me great perspective. Training back in Texas brought back alllllll the nostalgic high school mems as I ran around the places I trained when I first discovered the joys of running. It was definitely hard training at home because I was without training partners and we had lots of fun family activities planned that made my schedule pretty busy so I had to be really careful to get the sleep and recovery that I needed since I was still training as hard as I was when I was in Flagstaff. Being home gave me a chance to learn even more from challenges that arose and the people around me:
- My brother and sister taught me that it’s ok to not know everything and usually you can learn something from someone if you listen and stop acting like you know everything already. Another “humble yourself, self” moment for me. My bro and sis are so good about being excited and unashamed to learn and ask questions when they don’t know about something. I want to be a lifelong learner so their example reminded me that to learn, first you have to admit that you don’t know something.
- A lot of the people who have had the biggest impact on my life are older people who have been with me since high school. My high school friends were great, super encouraging, and made running and high school really really fun but the people who helped me through really hard times and gave me wisdom when I needed it were the older adults in my life and while I didn’t see that as well when I was younger, I realize that truth more and more the older I get. People like my parents who always encouraged me in running, drove me to practice, helped/help me make huge life decisions, etc., like my high school coach who taught me that hard work pays off and that you can have fun while you work hard (before hard workouts and races he would always tell me, “remember, have fun!” in his South African accent), like my chiropractor from high school who helped me through my first injury (and who has helped keep me healthy for about 8 years), people like my grandparents who always encourage me, see me as not just a runner but a unique human being, and who make sure I know that I am special and loved (because we all need to hear that!). People like that.
These are the little tidbits of wisdom that I’ve learned in the past six weeks from my trips to Arizona/Texas. Some things have been taught to me through running, some from the incredible people around me and I am thankful for them both. Now I’m excited to be back in Greenville and continue my journey training and getting ready to race later in January! Thanks for following along and stay tuned for more updates!