Resilience; the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, toughness. In order to perform at your best in running, like most sports, everything in your body has to be functioning properly. Towards the end of 2016, I went through every athlete’s nightmare…I hit a big plateau. No matter how hard I trained, my times just weren’t improving. Every training, I felt like I was running into a brick wall and found myself gasping for air even on easy runs. Since I wasn’t improving, I thought that the only way to fix this would be to increase my mileage and push myself harder than ever. To my surprise, this method had adverse effects. Rather than becoming fitter and faster, I was getting much slower and was struggling to run at all.
In February of 2017, I went to see a sports doctor at Wellington Sports Med. I got a blood test done and discovered that I had extremely low iron. Although it was a bit of a relief to know that there was actually a cause behind the decline of my running performance, it was also disheartening. I needed my iron levels to significantly increase before I could start training properly again. It was tough to take a break from running for a couple of months whilst I watched my peers reach new heights and achieve amazing things in the sport. I remember having a conversation with my parents about wanting to quit running because I didn’t think I’d ever been able to perform at the level that I used to. They told me to stick it out; wait until my iron levels returned to normal, and then decide whether I wanted to keep running.
Throughout these months when I wasn’t running, I had to stay mentally strong and remember why I loved to run. For me, it’s not just about running fast. It’s about the people you meet, the places you travel and the satisfaction of bettering yourself. I could’ve easily fallen into a slump and talked myself out of ever returning back to the sport of running. Looking back on this, the main things that got me through this was resilience and patience. I had to accept that once I got the all clear to begin running again, it would take a while for my fitness levels to return. This made me realise that you can run competitively for so many years of your life, and nobody is going to remember that you had a bad year of running at 15 years old. Although it was tough having to sit on the sidelines and not being able to run, I returned back to running so much stronger and more motivated than I was prior to this. I also learned a lot about fuelling my body with the nutrients it needs, to prevent this situation from happening again in the future.