The Most Meaningful Journey
Sports was the place where I found strength, hope and meaning to move forward in all phases of my life. As a runner, I have experienced many breakthroughs, disappointments, and regrets. I evolved in so many different ways and broke many barriers. The lessons I learned and the people I met along the way make this journey meaningful.
I loved the challenge of exerting my best effort to find new physical and mental limits since the end of my first recreational track season in spring 2008. I have sensed a profound sense of intrinsic meaning in the journey of the long-distance runner through the middle school, high school, and college levels. My breakthroughs and struggles taught me many valuable lessons that carry into all areas of my life. I now find it very interesting how my drive, competitiveness, and approach for the sport evolved through the past ten years.
Embracing the struggles and vulnerabilities that come out through the sport is crucial to my success and well-being.The most important lesson I learned from the sport was the importance of competing from a place of unconditional wholeness. My early elementary years were an uphill battle where I always felt punished and isolated because of my behavioral and social issues. I developed an enduring negative self-image around social situations and connecting with others that I did not want to face for many years.
Somehow I had to break through this and fill the fundamental human need of whole-hearted worthiness and belonging.. While sports gave me the strength to overcome struggles like this, I eventually evolved towards using my athletic identity as an attempt to cover up this gap in my human identity. When a sport carries a burden of covering up underlying inadequacies, the ego become resistant towards failure or looking bad. Just like that the burden of looking great on the outside and beating people became even more debilitating.
I have had my days where my authentic self did not show up because my sense of self-worth could not handle struggle and failure. During these practices and competitions my fear of failure or success overshadowed my bigger dream. I turned teammates into opponents because I disagreed with someone and narrow-mindedly placed my focus on my own success. I would have never imagined five years ago that inadequacies outside of running would get into my way as a performer.
Seeing how my reality in this sport unfolded helps me understand the importance of viewing the athlete as a human being, not just a performer. These insights will inform my future work with college student-athletes and guide my own future in the sport. Going into my eleventh track season, I feel like I have so much more to learn from the sport.
"Always in progress..." - Tim Catalano and Adam Goucher in Running the Edge