Lessons Learned… Never Give Up, Great Things Take Time.
By Lizzie Deutsch, Senior Runner for UIC Cross Country / Track and Field
Anyone close to me can attest to the fact that I have threatened to quit running several times per season. And honestly, reflecting back on the years, I am in shock that I am nearing the end of my senior year of college…. but here I am, still running!
Many people have asked me why I keep doing it if I claim to “hate” it so much. Why put yourself through something that brings you so much pain, both physically and mentally, on pretty much a daily basis?
Of course, there is a clear answer to this. I do not hate running at all. I love it, probably more than I will ever admit. The catch is, loving something that doesn’t bother to reciprocate half the time is exhausting and heartbreaking. It has the power to destroy you if you do not keep the big picture in mind.
So the question persists, why bother? While it may confuse anyone who has watched me struggle throughout the past few years, I know exactly why I have not given up. I cannot even tell you how many times I have crossed the finish line with tears in my eyes, defeated, and just wanting to be done. Oddly enough, though, those rare moments when you are successful are unlike any other, and they make all those heart-wrenching ones 100% worth it. The feeling that comes with being successful in a sport that is truly all about pushing yourself past limits that you didn’t even know existed is a feeling unlike any other. While all of the moments that you fell short of your goals seem to blend together, the ones in which you cross the finish line with a new PR in hand stick out vividly in your memory and those feelings stay with you forever. THAT is what gets my ass out of bed for morning runs every day, THAT is what gets me through 70 mile weeks, and THAT is what motivates me to want to be better than I was yesterday.
This past year, I have been able to run times that, had you asked if I could run in high school, I would have laughed in your face. Of course, I didn’t actually think it was funny that I couldn’t run those times, I just didn’t believe it was possible for me to run those times. I watched the top girls on my high school team and it broke my heart that I couldn’t be up there with them. The reality was that it just seemed easier to laugh it off and accept my mediocrity than to dwell on it and be sad.
Something changed for me during my junior year college track season. All it took was one huge PR in my 5K, and it was almost like a flame was lit inside me (no pun intended). I began to work harder than I had ever worked before, and while that may have made a physical difference, the confidence that those miles instilled in my brain is what truly changed me as an athlete. I began to believe that I could be just as good as the girls I stepped to the line with. And let me tell you, belief is a powerful thing. Training creates belief, and that new-found belief makes you hungry for success. Belief and confidence are ultimately what produce results. It is a beautiful cycle that will ALWAYS have its pay offs, even if it takes some time to see it. I am by no means breaking any records or doing anything out of this world, I am just finally seeing the pay offs of my hard work and that is enough for me.
While my running career may be coming to an end in the upcoming months, I don’t regret any of the tears and sweat that I have given this sport. If there is one piece of advice that I can give anyone that is on this team or that will be on this team, it is that you need to make the decision that you want to be great and do something about it. The only regret that I have about my career is not figuring this out sooner. Running truly has the ability to teach you some of the greatest lessons of life, so let it.
This blog post was re-posted with permission from UIC cross country / track and field. Read more from UIC’s team blog at https://uicflamesblog.wordpress.com/ and learn more about their team at http://www.uicflames.com/index.aspx?path=wtrack.