An Olympic Mentality

This week I have felt wonderfully inspired. I know it’s because of a couple ladies I watched run the Olympic marathon trials on Saturday, Amy Cragg and Shalane Flanagan. If you didn’t watch the trials you missed a nail biter! The short, sweet version is that the two led the race side by side for the first twenty or so miles, when Flanagan started feeling light headed. Cragg ended up pulling away in the last couple miles and won the race, while Flanagan came in third behind Desiree Linden. Upon finishing, Flanagan literally collapsed into Cragg’s arms at the finish line and immediately had to be wheeled off to receive IV fluids. (You can read the Runner’s World post race interview with Flanagan here.)

This dramatic finish has had me thinking. I certainly have never run hard enough to collapse the minute I cross the finish line, although I don’t want to push myself to that point. However, I believe that I can give more of myself when I toe the starting line at these races. I don’t think I’m truly giving it my all. It takes a lot for me to swallow my pride and admit that, because I am proud of my work ethic and the improvements I have made as far as my athletic ability. But I want to be the best I can be.

I will never make the Olympics, or the Olympic trials. I will probably never qualify for Boston. I have a slim chance of ever placing in my age division. But for as long as I am enjoying it, and staying healthy and injury-free, I will put forth my best effort when I’m racing. I will continue to chase PRs. I will continue to dream about bucket list races (Big Sur and NYC, I’m looking at you!). And I will continue to have an Olympic mentality.

I can’t train like an Olympian – I’m lacking world class coaches and trainers, plus my day job limits the amount of free time I have to train. I can, however, think like an Olympian. I can continue to dream big and work towards achieving my goals. I can continue to eat clean, strength train, and stretch. I can continue to follow training plans closely, and incorporate speedwork, hills, and long runs into my regular routine. And above all, I can continue working to put my dreams into motion, each and every day. I don’t want to be the best in the world, but I certainly want to be the best I can be, and I think that’s a pretty attainable goal. And, I think, a pretty Olympic mentality.

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