I started running fifteen years ago and racing seriously, at a national level, twelve years ago. After being in a sport for that long, there are bound to be some glorified high points and some lower than you’d like to remember. I had a seven year low. My high school career, especially late, had been very successful and looking back it feels like I dove straight off a cliff into unsuccessful. There were less than a handful of times I would consider “high points”, and they were really more average than exceptional. After my college career, most would have hung up the track spikes and headed, more than willingly, into “post competitive sports” life; let alone continue through three more years of being miserable. I thought about it; why continue racing when I hadn’t been happy with it in so long. However, even when I seriously considered it, there was always a little part of me that said “give it one more try, one more workout, one more track season”.
There are so many different combinations that make an athlete, at any level, successful. The one factor in every combination is belief. When we finally throw in the towel, it’s more often than not, when we stop believing. At my core (that little spot where my ribcage comes together, right below my heart and right above my diaphragm, set back against my spine) is a place where I’ve always believe I could be great; I could make an Olympic team, World Championship team, and race confidently among the best. It is that place in me that would whisper, “one more” and no matter how much I wanted to silence it, I always listened. After fighting it for years and wondering when my core would finally decide to give up, I started having the success for which I had waited so long. In 2012 I qualified for the US Olympic Trails, took 32 seconds off my 2007 steeplechase PR, and finally got rid of high school PRs in everything from the mile to 5k. While my recent successes can be attributed to lifestyle changes and a different commitment and approach to my training, the foundation for those changes is rooted in believing. I’ve come to realize over the past year, when we allow ourselves to fully believe that the craziest dream is possible, we give ourselves the permission to chase it with the passion and commitment required to make it so. We do the important things with more focus, the little things carry more importance, and our actions build the foundation on which our dreams can be built into a reality.
I wish I knew where I developed this belief, so I could share it with others and they could develop it too. If anything it’s as simple as taking a goal or a dream and entertaining the idea that it is feasible.
Collier Lawrence is an American track and field athlete, specialized in the steeplechase. She is a graduate of Reno High and while competing for Washington State University earned a BS in Kinesiology. She is currently in her fourth season as a volunteer assistant coach for the University of Nevada, where she trains under Kirk Elias. She currently also works with Julie Young, who develops her steeplechase-specific performance conditioning program. Collier was 19th in the 2012 Olympic Trails last year and was ranked top 15 in the US. Her training is now focused on qualifying for the 2013 World Championships and the 2016 Olympics.