I love the letters many of you wrote and posted if you were to offer advice to your younger self. As I take my penultimate lap around the sun before the ‘Faster as a Masters’ age, I got to thinking about the advice I’d give to myself as I continue to train as an elite athlete, as I continue to love this sport.
My 20-year-old self and 39-year-old self are “same-same, but different.” I still crave adventure. I have a burning fire in my belly that fuels me to be a better version of myself every day. I love running more and more. I want to get better and faster. But some of the things my 20-year-old self could do I can no longer do (like run back-to-back-to-back hard days, bounce back from little niggles) but I can still do many of the same things (like smash hard workouts and continue to get better and faster).
I got to thinking about the letters to our younger selves and wrote one to my older self.
You’ve come a long way baby! No regrets. Lots of lessons, the ups and downs. Don’t ever stop having fun. That joy you derive from the various things you do, continue to seek that. Take a moment to step back to reflect upon the amazing things you’ve accomplished. What lessons would you remind yourself not just on the challenging days but the good days too?
The whole is greater than the sum of the parts
Your work as a civil engineer, as a coach, and as a professor taught you that all the little things add up to be greater than what they are on their own. Consistency is queen. Show up every day with a desire to be better. They say ‘one workout won’t make you or break you,’ but you know the former is true while the latter is not; back off when you need to so you be smarter, faster, stronger over the long game.
Don’t let comparison steal your joy
The person you are now and who you were when you’re in your early twenties is not the same. Use that wisdom you garnered along the way. You’ve got many data points in your life to learn from but be sure not to use a lens of direct comparison. The same goes for your competitors and rivals. Celebrate your uniqueness and do the things that make you a champion, not someone else a champion.
Celebrate your uniqueness and do the things that make you a champion, not someone else a champion.
Stay Awkward, Brave and Kind (nod to Brené Brown!)
Courage is your suit of armour; it’s what you wear when it’s time to go to battle with your greatest rivals. Your rivals only make you better, you lean into their strengths to better your weaknesses, you share your strengths, and you do it all with a cloak of kindness. Teamwork makes the dreamwork and the best teams get out there and play. So be your authentic self and show up to give 100%, because your teammates have got your back, not just for the best days but the challenging ones too.
When in doubt, think back to the amazing things you’ve accomplished; let these spur you to further greatness. Don’t let imposter syndrome stop you from stepping up to the line; many great champions were made over time. And that negative voice in your head, remember to speak to it with kindness, the same way you’d give advice to a friend. Empathy and courage will lead you with a strong heart and fast legs.
Head up, Wings Out.