Ever since my freshman year of High School, running has been one of my biggest passions. I have competed in both Cross Country and Track for all off my High School and College careers. Throughout High School, the most important parts of running to me were fast times, winning, and being as fit as possible. While these are all still important to me, my love for running is now based on more than just the physical benefits and accolades. Running has strengthened my character in ways that I can apply to other areas of life.
Much of this change can be attributed to my coach, Toby Schwarz. In addition to being an exceptional coach, Toby has a PHD in Sports Psychology. For this reason, he puts a lot of emphasis on the mental preparation that is necessary for performing your best. The day before every race, he tells all of his athletes to come up with a race plan. However, he also says that we shouldn’t expect everything to go according to plan. Instead, he tells us to “focus on what we can control, and pray about the rest.” There are many things that can happen in a race that are simply out of our control. When adversity arises, it is important to make the necessary adjustments to overcome them, but also important to recognize what you cannot change, so that you don’t needlessly dwell on it.
Not only has adopting this mentality improved my racing, it has also helped me cope with trials I encounter in other aspects. Whenever I find my self in stressful situations, I evaluate what I can do to solve the problem, and leave the rest up to God. This idea reminds me of a prayer, written by the theologian Reinhold Neibuhr, that was framed in my house growing up:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.” – Reinhold Neibuhr