Course Correction

This indoor season has been interesting so far, with an unhealthy dash of what I call "emotional spiraling". As my racing season ramped up, I found myself heading down a very familiar road. I ended my 2015 campaign broken-hearted and bitterly disappointed. All season long my expectations were sky-high and my results fell short. Along the way were two national championships, a silver at the Pan Ams, and a trip to the World Championships. None of that was good enough. I was never truly satisfied. This winter my quick indoor campaign produced on paper 2 qualifiers for the World Indoor Championships (in the mile and 3000m), and a new PB in the mile. In my heart it produced deep dissatisfaction and uneasiness - convinced I was so much better even than those good results, I felt that nothing would calm the disquiet until I achieved my nebulous breakthrough. 

Competing at the World Indoor Championships in 2014

Competing at the World Indoor Championships in 2014

Part of the mental training I have been working on (for 2 years now!) has been to give myself credit for the things I do well. In all honesty, it’s embarrassing that I continue struggling with this. How hard can it be?! Haven’t I made progress in this area?! I have wondered if building confidence has led me to inflated view of myself leaving me unable to live up to it in reality. 

But aren’t big goals and big dreams important? Isn’t it necessary to believe anything is possible? 

These are questions I have wrestled with. We are taught to never settle, never give up, never get too comfortable. I have been trying my best - diligently training and learning and stretching every aspect of myself - for as long as I can remember. The genuine wholehearted effort has been constant. Still I am not content. My best effort has never been enough to get what I want.

Recently during a run I was listening to a podcast from a church I sometimes attend. The speaker was explaining some common downfalls and wrong attitudes that people often get caught up in. And he came to this issue of covetousness… (Yes. I know that is SUCH church jargon!) But do you know what it is - covetousness? It's greed. Here’s his explanation: “never being grateful, never being thankful, never having enough. Always gotta have more, more, more, more, more. Always gotta have more. Never pleased, never content, always gotta have more.”  In those words I heard him describing ME.

I didn’t even feel guilty.

I felt… relieved to have a label for all my questioning, uncertainty, and unease. I never would’ve pegged myself as thankless or “covetous.” To me those words have always been associated with possessions or money or anything material. Almost everything in my life causes me to feel overwhelmingly grateful, but my results on the track have been a glaring exception. Lately it’s seemed like nothing is EVER good enough for me.

Imagine feeling anxious as Christmas or your birthday approached, being worried you might not get every single present you wanted, or the right presents. Or you might get something a tiny bit different than your ultimate wish list. And instead of saying thanks you just cried over what you wanted more. I don’t want to be that person any longer.

So… aren’t big goals and dreams important? Shouldn’t I believe anything is possible? Well, yes! I have witnessed friends and teammates experience huge improvements. I myself have had seasons of major progress earlier in my career and enjoyed a huge clutch performance to make the Olympic team 4 years ago. But just because something is possible, probable, or even indicated doesn’t mean it is owed to me. The fact is The Lord gave me ability and this running career and my dedication is what I owe HIM. The total package is a big gift from God to me. I will keep my head down, dream big, run my heart out, and the results are in His hands. I will get what I get. And it will be enough.

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
— John 8:32
Nicole SifuentesComment