(1) To have the courage, confidence, self-belief and self-determination to go out there and work it out until you find the opportunities you want in life.
(2) Work hard, usually towards the common goal of creating income.
– Urban Dictionary
As a runner, it is easy to get caught up in the hustle. Run fast. Win Races. Get Money. This is the process. Typically once you no longer depend on this cycle, you are considered to have “made it.”
It sounds simple: Run Fast. This season in my hustle as an 800m runner, I let the measurable numbers cloud the healthy dialogue in my head. Steeper standards, cost of living, pacing money, World rankings, IAAF point scoring, number of likes and followers, race sections, lanes, contracts, race time, heart rate zone, dates, body weight, splits, ferritin levels. Unintentionally, I started focusing on these “measurables.” The numbers. I tried to know them. Understand them. Organize them. Control them.
The problem was, I reached a point where I thought the numbers defined me as an athlete. I was unsatisfied being referred to by my times instead of my name, so I made a plan to achieve the numbers I thought would earn an outsiders respect; to ultimately be known for me, Adrea. I was healthy, my season was rolling, I was ready. I was able to get to the halfway mark in the previously defined “hustle” because this year I had opportunity. I was accepted into meets. I ran PB times. I was on the start list next to some very talented names, had good weather, sections, and fast tracks.
The problem was I let myself fixate on the numbers. Despite my steady improvements, I thought about the numbers more. I wanted to look better on paper and feel like I could be taken seriously and competitively. I did not see, that people already were taking me seriously despite the mispronunciations of my name. More opportunity races arrived but this time I lost. I didn’t run to my capabilities. The result times reflected this. The frustrating part was I knew I had all of the pieces ready to fall into place and I couldn’t figure out why they weren’t. All I could see were the numbers, and they were not changing how I thought they would. I wasn’t understanding them and I didn’t want to admit some were out of my control.
Unfortunately it took me a series of races, and a number of failed attempts to identify what was going wrong. I continued to run slower, I felt homesick, I started having hamstring restrictions, and went to bed even more disappointed and frustrated. To top it off I overheard negative gossip suggesting I was lazy, I was hated, and I needed to prove myself. Hearing this, I felt hurt, and wasn’t able to just brush it off. I unintentionally made another mistake to wonder if the gossip was true.
But with the help of my brother, I caught myself. I recognized I was in a downward spiral. I tried to flip it, because I knew this is not what I wanted, nor was it who I am. I finally asked myself, what do I want? What does it look like? Getting out in nature and literally changing what I was seeing helped bring some clarity. But it did take me some time to genuinely answer. When I did, I realized I had lost sight of my Why. Why do I run?
As I reconnected to my Why, I found I had unintentionally replaced my Why with doubt. Doubt that came at the cost of my self-confidence for longer than I would like to admit. As I continued unravelling the narrative, I had the aha! moment. I saw clearly that I had lost focus of my true goals to the hustle.
The final lesson? I realized the hustle is the process, not the goal.
So how did I realign my mindset to my goals?
1) I went back to my fall journal, and made time to consider my real goals and intentions. “Be the best version of myself – both on and off the track. “ and “Be and pursue greatness!”
2) Connect with my people. I am lucky to have such an amazing group of family, friends, and supporters who are always a short phone call away. Thank-you! You know who you are!
3) Understand the hustle is a changeable process. Remove what isn’t working. Confront the gossip with truth, and spend less energy on the “numbers”. Do what you already know works, and trust. In most situations, it is important to remember people are normally, inherently good- not malicious.
4) Know that actions speak louder than words. Daydream the big goal, but more importantly DO something to achieve the big goal.
If you find yourself caught in the hustle, it’s okay. You most likely put yourself there, which means you also have the ability to take yourself out. In my situation, knowing your Why is a big help in shifting back into your best self. Other times taking the time to go back to your roots and grounding yourself is always helpful.