Three years ago I lost my heart to trail running. Since then it has been a journey filled with trials and tribulations but after all the blood, sweat and tears, finishing my first trail race of the year on the podium has filled me with a mixed bag of emotions.
A year in review
Last year certainly came with its challenges. I suffered a massive blow after sustaining a severe ankle sprain that wound up requiring four months rest and has resulted in the weakening of supporting ligaments. The injury completely sidelined me and I was forced to pause everything that I had spent an entire year training for.
On the emotional front, 2018 presented further challenges. I am genetically predispositioned to Bipolar Disorder. By my mid 20s I was displaying the classic symptoms but when I entered a traumatic and emotionally abusive relationship at the start of 2018, it triggered possibly one of my most dramatic hypomanic phases and led to an official diagnosis. The news further sidelined me.
Since then I have been kicking, screaming and clawing my way back. There is a song by Machine Gun Kelly (‘Running’) where he says: “I keep my head up, with my feet on the ground, from the bottom so up is the only place that I’m going, ready to face all that’s in front of me now.”
This resonates so deeply with me. There were so many times when I doubted I would ever get back to running, which has been the torch that has cast light in my darkest times. And if I have to be completely honest, there have been times when I felt like my mental disorder was going to tear me apart and consume me. But sometimes there is no other choice but to drag yourself up off the ground, put on your warrior paint and face your fears.
Revisiting definition of success
We often see and hear stories of success. We see athletes achieving their goals, teams winning their leagues… but not often do we see the struggles they go through to get there. The media has us believing that there are no obstacles. That these people somehow magically sail to the top. I have lost count of the number of times I have felt downright despondent and frustrated thinking that life had it in for me. But the truth is, we are all fighting a battle in our lives. We don’t always see it on social media, on TV, in magazines, but in the background there are always obstacles.
This last weekend I did not celebrate my podium finish- I celebrated ovecrcoming the curveballs that got thrown my way to knock me down. I celebrated all the times that I wanted to give up but didn’t. When we think of success we conjure up images of winning, of high salaries, perfect relationships, white picket fences… but I don’t think that is the definition of success. I think success is the grit it takes to face life’s obstacles and not let them knock us down. And if all we achieve is making it through the day, then so be it!
In the same song, Machine Gun Kelly says: “I’m walking through the fire ’cause there is no way around, moving in the same direction wherever the wind is blowing.”
Today, instead of revelling in my wins, I choose to revel in the strength it took to get there.