Is it just me, or do relays bring out a different side of you as a runner? I know I can’t speak for everyone, but personally, relays have always been my favourite. No matter how we placed as a team, no matter what kind of race I had as an individual, I always walk away with such a surreal and positive outlook.
As a runner, something I’ve struggled with on the daily is the mental aspect of running. In workouts, I found it hard to believe in myself and push past the barriers or marks I’ve set before. For example, when I’ve run a certain time or distance for a tempo, it’s been difficult for me to think towards increasing the distance or pacing when I repeat it in the future. Races were terrifying and once the pain and fatigue began to set in, I’d give in and let myself believe that I couldn’t; but in reality, I very well could.
You can be as fit as you’ve ever been, able to run as fast as you ever have, but if mentally you’re not quite there yet the times and the pr’s will never come. It’s very hard to let yourself go and decide on the line and during the race that you’re going to push yourself to give every last bit of anything that you have. I know it has been hard for me most of my life. Recently I realized this was because I was always focusing on myself and thinking about my own improvement and my own goals as an individual and letting the bigger picture fade from my sights.
When I’m feeling the burn in my lungs, or my legs are tired and I think I can’t possibly go on, I now think of my team and my coaches and all the other supporters I have on my side. I think of them and tell myself that this is more than just you… you’re doing this for more than just you. Running for more than yourself gives so much more purpose and strength to everything you do.
You all must be wondering at this point what the heck this had to do with relays… well think back to the last relay you’ve run. Think about what you thought about before you went to the starting line. No doubt you were already tired from your own personal events, maybe you had even just finished your own. Each and every time though I’m sure you put your own PERSONAL excuses and doubts aside because instead of thinking about YOU, you were thinking about the TEAM. When your mind fails you, thinking about doing it for someone or something else gives a higher purpose.
Now, whenever I get on the line for a race, I think about doing it for my team. When my legs are tired during a run, I think about my team. When my lungs are burning during a workout and I doubt my abilities, I think about my team. At the end of the day, you’re more than just a runner, you belong to something much greater, and to limit your impact and to only think about yourself would be doing both you and everyone on your team an injustice. Running may be an individualized result, but it is a team sport.
A team above all. Above all a team