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What makes a successful running career? You decide

Success to me as a runner is giving my best to the sport and trusting my ability and passion will in turn reveal the best in me

Photo: Michael Doyle.

What does it mean to have a successful running career? This question was on my mind while up in Vancouver awaiting the go ahead to return to Omaha, Neb. As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, over the past year-and-a-half I’ve been splitting my time between Canada and the United States while going through the immigration process.

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Now that I’ve arrived home as a permanent resident of the United States, I find myself entering into a new chapter. As I look ahead at what’s to come and think about what success in running means to me, I realize I have a much different perspective than I did when I embarked on this journey two-and-a-half years ago.

I’ve gone through a great deal of personal transformation since turning my attention to competitive running, which in turn has had a impact on my perspective on the sport. When I began on the journey I was still very much the type of person who felt she had something to prove beyond simply trusting myself and my abilities. I was all about naming a lofty goal holding little respect for the process. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m still one for setting big goals; with the difference now being accepting and enjoying the process.

I was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder shortly after I began running competitively, and went on to discover many truths about myself that had been hidden under years and years of not being diagnosed; and not understanding how to harness all the good that comes with having a mind that’s wired differently. Among the many changes I encountered after being diagnosed was a shift in the way I perceive myself, and the way I wanted to be in this world. Such changes to my thinking process were bound to have an impact on how I perceived my running career as well – and they did.

When I recently began reflecting on what it means to me to be a successful runner I realized the limited scope of success I had defined for myself two-and-a-half years ago was ridiculous. In a smack-you-in-the-face kind of moment I realized I was doing myself a great disservice by allowing my “old” way of thinking dictate how I would go about defining success.

In that moment of realization I began to release myself from my past ways of thinking about success in running – just as I had done in all the other parts of my life – and allow myself to explore what I authentically feel is the definition of success as a runner. Here’s what I discovered: Success to me as a runner is giving my best to the sport and trusting my ability and passion will in turn reveal the best in me.

This newly found mindset allows me to enjoy the sport rather than be anxious and impatient, as I’ve been in the past – intent on meeting certain times for certain distances by certain dates. It’s liberating to find the truth within myself, and accept what will be – will be, rather than forcing the process. My drive and determination are as strong as ever; I simply now have a perspective that is an honest reflection of who I am.