Am I the only one who gets anxiety when getting ready to run during track season? It was a hot day in the month of May, our shuttle hurdle team was preparing to run our race that you decide if we would go to state or not. As we were warming up we all felt anxiety rush upon us. We all knew that just by one little mistake we would not be going. We all knew that if we messed up our teammates would not be able to forgive us. This is the feeling of anxiety. We had tried so hard to make it to where we are today and now that day is here. This is anxiety.
As I set in my blocks waiting for the gun to go off, my arms begin to shake. This is anxiety. Going back to my first high school track meet, I never thought | would make it this far. When I first decided to go out for track it was only to stay in shape and to get myself ready for softball season. It was a home track meet and I was about to run hurdles for the first time of my high school career in front of all of my friends and family. All eyes were on me. Having this feeling of anxiety was like wanting to throw up, but I knew if I believed in myself like my family did I would do fine.
Last time | had run hurdles before this was when I was in middle school. It was a big change. Looking back, I thought my hurdle career would begin when | finally got to middle school. I had finally grow up and out of the elementary school and doing those fake small hurdles for track and field day. Now was my time to show how much I can improve by the time I would get to high school track. I pictured the high school coach being at my middle school meets and he would watch me and talk to me after. All of that was a dream I guess, and because of my middle school track coach that dream ould never come true.
One day after school we were all getting ready for track practice, we did our stretches then all of the hurdlers walked over to get ready to practice, but not me. As was beginning to walk over to the hurdles my track coach stopped me, the exact words he said to me were “McKenna lam going to take you out of hurdles, I think you need to start running other events”. I was immediately devastated. Tears ran down my face as I turned my back to the hurdles and walked over to run with all of the other middle school kids. As the days went on, I did not know what to do.
It was my first middle school track season and all of my dreams had already been crushed. I did not feel that I was needed on the team anymore because there was not anything else that I was good at, or even wanted to be good at. I did not feel good enough, I was the outcast on the team. After a while, I learned to deal with it and practice hard, then maybe coach would let me try again. As my middle school track season came to an end, I realized that I had tried every event there was, but there was not one that I could like more than I liked running hurdles.
Track season rolled around again and I debated going out or not, but I decided to try it again hoping high school track would be better. First thing I asked my coach was if I could try doing hurdles, at first he said no. Then, I told him about my past experience, and he let me give it a go. I knew I had to prove to him that hurdles were something I really wanted to do, so I practiced hard and got help from other hurdlers. As soon as | felt ready to show him my anxiety came. I had to get it over quick and overcome my anxiety.
Soon, he came over to watch me and thankfully he was really impressed. He told me I was short and quick, which meant I was perfect for hurdles. My hands and legs were shaking; my anxiety had now turned into joy. Now I knew I just had to work on the little things. In the beginning of practice, the next day I worked on the swinging of my arms. I worked on this because if my arms were swinging all over the place them I would be unbalanced and I could possible hit a runner next to me. Next I worked on my footing.
I had to work on this because when I first started I was five stepping in between hurdles, and I at least had to get down to four stepping, then eventually three stepping. All of these things took time, but if I focused and worked hard on it during practice I would eventually get it, and I did. During the next few practices I had coach watch me. Every time he watched me I felt anxiety, I felt like I was going to throw up every time. Felt like my whole life was going to end. Our whole shuttle team had to work together on starts to nock some time off to qualify for state.
We had a few days of practice, then it was time for the two meets we had been waiting for all year. It was finally that time, it was the time when we would figure out if we would make it to state and make many people proud or not. Anxiety came upon me as soon as I stared getting warmed up. Now was the time where I began to overthink things, like would I false start? Would I hit a hurdle? Would I fall? Running at this meet was important, this meet would decide if all of the hard work would pay off, or if it would just be useless. I was the first runner, which meant I started the race.
I stretched then began to get set in mu blocks. I looked up at the starter, they I looked back down at the blue track. I quietly waited for the gun to fire and to run my race. Anxiety is the feeling of nervousness of overthinking, and worrying. This is anxiety. I finished the race and I had no reason to feel anxious, I did not mess anything up. My three teammates, the rest of my team followed. We ran, then we waited for results. We were all huddled together to see if we would be going. It felt like it took them a lifetime to get the results, but as soon as they were posted we jumped of joy.
We had made it to state and we were going to make the best of it. Running hurdles felt a little bit like you were a bird and you could just fly over obstacles in your way. Every once in a while some things might get in your way, but you just have to get back and push a little harder. When you are running hurdles there it is like all eyes are on you, there are people in the bleachers, people in the infield and people leaning on fence all the way around the track. You cannot escape the spot light. This is anxiety. Anxiety overcomes your body when preparing for a big event.
Anxiety is defined as a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. I feel anxiety during track season because you never know what the results of the race are going to be, even if you felt good during the race. My coach impacted my anxiety throughout the season greatly. At the beginning of the season my anxiety got worse when my coach came around, but as the season started coming to an end he was the only person who could make my anxiety go away.
Coach knew just what to say to me to make me feel like I could do anything. Coach gave me self confidence in a way no one else ever could. Coach believed in me, and when one person believes in you, you have to make everyone else. You cannot make people believe in you when they see the nervous, scared side of you. Thad finally come to a realization that I had to overcome my anxiety was when I was getting an opportunity to run finals at state track. I was getting an opportunity to run on the blue oval.
As you stood on the track at state and looked around all you could see was many talented athletes who would someday go far with track, you also saw many proud parents. As I looked around at state track there is one thing I never did see. You know what that was? I never saw an athlete too nervous to run, I never saw an athlete where they let anxiety overcome them. That is the time I knew then that I had to get over it and run my race. I wanted to be like everyone else. This is anxiety. To conclude, now that I look back on my past and the times when I let anxiety get the best of me I realize that I am now stronger that.
Once you get rid of the fact of not thinking you are good enough you become unstoppable. I realized that there is no need to have anxiety because you cannot change the results of the race, all you can do is make sure you compete how you practice and do your best. I now have come to realize that when you are calm and have serenity before running your race you will be way better off than when you let anxiety overcome you. My coach always told me “Don’t think, just do”. His advice is what helped me overcome my anxiety.