This photo. It’s the success story. It’s the achievement. The win. But you don’t see where it all started. Way back when.
How did it begin? Taking the first step; the first step back after kid number two; the commitment to PT three times a week; the decision to block out time in the chaos of life for the payoff of long lasting change. I think about this idea a lot with the athletes I coach. And it always goes back to starting the process. Start small, build big.
My athlete Sarah Robinson secretly and deeply wanted to qualify for 2016 marathon Olympic trials. The reality of baby bottles and diapers, sleep deprivation, achey hips, and an awkward floppy stride was pulling her down more than the voice inside could pull her up. She wasn't a pro runner, she worked full time and had a beautiful chubby 6 month old PJ at home by her side. Her priorities were now PJ's priorities. I understood. As her coach and someone who does train full time I knew she could have both. The dream and the onus she carried as a working mom. She would just need to make tiny concessions, consistent commitments, and believe.
When I have people set out goals I like to ask what are your life stressors and what are your energy sucks. Identifying these help you carve out how much time you actually can devote to running, prehab, ancillary work, and sleep. Sarah told me: “whatever you put on my schedule I’ll do.” So I wrote core work (being just a few months post-partum I felt that was crucial), 3 days a week. If she had 5 miles on the day, it might not have been first thing in the morning after a long blissful night of sleep but rather on her lunch break after PJ stopped by for a feeding. Sarah saw it and Sarah did it. It wasn't some miracle or overnight sensation. She simply put in the work during the hours she very well could have chosen not to. About 16 months after she had PJ, Sarah Mac conquered her own inner voice and conquered the marathon. She ran 2:42:36 and qualified for her 1st Olympic Trials.
Sarah's story and many others out there parallel much of my return to competition after I had Hudson. My weakness as a runner has always been my anatomical issues involving my low back, pelvis, and hips. My strength has been my desire to make my body and stride stronger and more powerful. When Hudson was born, there were 10 months until the US Track Olympic trials. I had a desire to make the team that had been brewing for the past 4 years. I knew I had a tremendous task ahead of me.
My thought process: how do I get to the starting line in a position to make that team? First I need to run a 10k qualifier and hopefully run the Olympic Standard. I need to be back up to a full training load within a matter of months. I broke it down into tangible daily goals. My inner core needed coordination and strength. 30-40 mins each night after the kids went to sleep I meandering to my garage and breathed and braced.
I balanced on one leg, then the other, with my eyes open, then my eyes shut. I made weekly gains and then had weekly setbacks. When I began training hard in early spring of 2016, I didn't stop the core and ancillary. When I got fit and then tired from training, I kept forcing myself to go down to the garage and breathe and brace. I stepped on the line of the Stanford Invite at the end of March, and braced for impact. 25 laps later and .53 under the Olympic A standard I breathed.
Because every big win starts with taking the first step, this month, I challenge you to #WinWithOne. Pick one small change that you’d like to make in your everyday, and commit to it for the month of February. For you it might be one extra hour of sleep per night, two core sessions a week, stretching before bed, or commitment to get out the door and run 3 times a week. Whatever you decide, share your commitment and your process with hashtag: #WinWithOne
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