So, I fell. My first 400H race as a professional athlete and I fell.
Initially, I wanted to write this post about trusting the process – what I dubbed “the key to surviving this sport” after a long conversation with World Athletics Center sprints coach, Chidi Enyia. But given the circumstances, I figured this was the perfect time to sit down and really think about what it means to give your all.
How many of you (I’m talking specifically to you, athletes) have finished a workout or a race with that feeling in the pit of your stomach? You know the one; the one telling you that you could have done more… only to be quickly dismissed while you proclaim that you gave 100%. How many of you have walked away from the track overwhelmed by the race that was lost or the PR that didn’t happen? In observing others and myself in this sport, I’ve realized that oftentimes we are so consumed by this need for stronger, faster, farther now and the need for instant gratification, for immediate progress. When that need is paired with negative post-race feelings, it can be crippling.
This weekend was the first time that I have walked away from a race completely okay – no anger, no guilt, no tears. I fell. Hard. And I got up. I finished my race. And I won. In the moments between hitting the ground and picking myself up I knew that I had a choice. I could walk off the track and throw away the race… or I could finish it. Either way, I had to get up.
Training Resource: Program Design for HS 300 & 400 Hurdles
I’m writing about this because it poses a serious question. Why wake up and train every day – why put yourself through all of the pains that come with track & field, if you aren’t going to give it absolutely everything you have on race day? Seriously. Ask yourself. Why? When you think about it that way, it makes it a lot easier to do your best each time you step onto the track. Not 85% masking as 100%. Your honest best. And that feeling in the pit of your stomach? It doesn’t exist when you know that you actually did all that you could. That doesn’t mean that the hunger for a faster time or a first place finish vanishes. That’s the nature of the beast.
Track and field is always about more. But you can’t do any better than your best. And when you give your best, it makes it a hell of a lot easier to be at peace with where you are, right now.
More From Shante: Just Do It…Seriously
UPDATE (by Latif Thomas) 4/11/15: As you know, Shante fell in her first race. But, if this post didn’t sell you on the type of person and competitor she is, take a look at what happened in her second professional race in the 400H: