Happy Hump Day!!

Apologies for being away for so long, I caught a terrible bug after season ended. Basically, I got these flu like symptoms and then my  mouth broke out into canker sores. It was super weird and painful–I was unable to eat for a good two weeks. Because of that, I took time off from running and did a little soul searching.

As I mentioned in previous post, I have a lot on my plate–full-time student, full-time athlete, and part-time nanny. Now, I have been juggling all of this for well over a year, but the difference is I am not injured and the intensity of my training has escalated. On top of that, my college coach was playing tug-a-war, pressuring to quit my job; he would use the dedication lecture, putting extra pressure on me. I love running–don’t get me wrong–it means the world to me; unfortunately, life happens and bills are apart of making it in this world. After long thought, I decided I am not in the position to quit the job I love and need, instead I am taking a break from the UCLA team.

I know, it seems quite drastic, but really it isn’t; simply put, running became a stress. With all the expectations of the team and lack of support from my teammates, I found myself no longer enjoying running as a sport. This feeling has been haunting me for well over a year, but I did not feel as though I were in the position to take on the responsibility of training alone. I am now in a better place and know I can monitor as well as discipline myself enough to train hard on my own. I want to make this clear, I did not quit the team; rather, I am treating these next few months as though I am training post-collegiate and will return to the team come outdoors.

It is extremely important to take care of yourself before worrying about others. This is something I have become victim of. Being a part of a DI program is such an honor, but when your risking your own wellbeing, it is important to take a step back and reevaluate your needs as an individual. As much as I would love to be a regular student-athlete, my financial position does not allow that–in order to be on the team I need to pay for school, meaning I need my job. Also, it is important to have the right support system. I did not have this while with my team, rather I felt constantly at battle trying to prove myself worthy of their acceptance. I know this is extremely common among many female cross country teams, and I strongly feel it is an issue that must be addressed. Rather than continue to battle, I decided to take a step back and wave my white flag.

Outside of my team, I have a great support system. I have my wonderful friends who I can tell everything to without judgement; my family who though I drive them crazy, love and support me through every battle; my high school coach, Coach Sumner, who has been there for me since I began my running career and truly believes in me; and finally, I have my job, where I am loved unconditionally by the boy I nanny and feel accepted by the parents. These systems mean the world to me, and honestly, after making my decision to train on my own I felt a weight lifted from my chest.

My runs have been liberating. Last week, I was able to get in three runs and it felt great–I was doing it for me. This week, I jumped back on my training plan and even got into the gym last night to cross-train and lift (Boy, am I sore!). Once my training is more steady and I add in workouts, I may join the team for a few track sessions, but I love the freedom I am given to choose when I plan to join. This is why I run. I run to be free. I run to test my body’s limits. but most importantly, I run to find myself and to be happy.

Why do you run?

Just Keep Running. XOXO

Ashlee Powers