Every morning in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve. It doesn't matter whether you're a lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you'd better be running.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Running Spotlight: Interview with Mary Ann Schauerhamer: Overcoming Discouragement

Discouragement and burnout. Those two words are the black plague of running. The very bottom of the pit of despair. But every runner experiences those feelings. How do you overcome them? How do you motivate yourself when the last thing you want to do is run? I interviewed elite distance runner Mary Ann Schauerhamer and she gave some great insight.

Mary Ann Schauerhamer is currently a member of the Utah Elite team, a new team sponsored by 26.2 Running Company. She started running competitively in 5th grade.She broke the Nevada state record twice in the 3200m (two-mile) in high school. She then accepted a full ride scholarship to run for Southern Utah University where she broke many school records as well. She still holds their steeplechase record. After college she moved to Provo where she competed in the steeplechase at USA Nationals, placing 21st! She continues to race and win, always training and looking for the next challenge.

Here is her advice for overcoming discouragement and burnout in running, and also advice on how to stay motivated:

"I have lofty running goals and if I don’t feel like working out I imagine myself winning a big race and that helps me to get excited again. I also draw motivation from hearing about and seeing other people’s running successes. I try to stay involved in the racing scene and keep myself current with who is running well and winning big races and I try to associate myself with successful runners who are encouraging and get advice from them. I really want to become a professional runner, because it is a job where I will get respect from people and freedom to do what I want and not have to work for a mean boss! I want to make my parents happy and prove to all those who have told me that I don't have what it takes that I can accomplish anything I want. I think I could help out my family with their financial struggles if I can become an Olympian. I also don't want to give up because I have something to prove to some people who have tried to get me discouraged about running. I also want to have a good physique because I hate the look of fat and lack of tone and I want to be attractive and be healthy and have a long life. I also depend of exercise to boost my mood and refresh myself mentally and physically. If I don't exercise I start to feel down and anxious, but when I do I feel happy and invigorated and can face tedious tasks.
I get discouraged often in running, but I don't give up. I see so many others give up because they aren't the best anymore and I don't want to be like them. I don't have to always succeed or always make steady progress to believe I can reach my goals. I think it's ridiculous and overly prideful to refuse to run unless you are the best. I don't care what other people think that much. It's my life, not theirs, and I think that continuing to try to improve even when I'm not the best will help me to succeed in the long term. Those people who will only compete when they are the best often never compete again and it's sad. I learn a lot from my failures, too, so I'm not too afraid to fail. I get a great workout with great runners in races even if I don't win, so they aren't a waste. I also learn the courses and learn about my competition by competing often with them, which helps me the next time I come to the same race or if I see the same competition in another race.
When I get discouraged about my running, I overcome it by coming up with a plan to try to ensure that the failure won't happen again. I try not to dwell on my failure and try to look forward and not backwards. I try to think about my next race and imagine myself winning it and how happy I will feel when it happens. I list all the ways that I have improved my lifestyle and running so that I see all my progress and try to focus on my improvement and tell myself to just take it one step at a time. I think about how many people have given up and I think how at least I am still putting myself in the "boxing ring." I tell myself compliments on how tough I am and brave and imagine myself faster than the fastest guys in Utah and imagine myself ripped and muscular and lean and it helps me to not focus on my current state.
I have become burnt out once, to the point where I couldn't make myself run fast even though physically I was capable, but mentally I couldn't make myself do it. It was during the summer during my college running years. I had put so much pressure on myself that I became very rigid in what I expected from myself, and I tried to make myself stick to a really boring running route and routine.

I have learned from that and refuse to become burnt out again. I guess once you hit rock bottom you realize how awful it is and don't want to get to that point again. I think being burnt out is kind of like being tired of doing something. Running is a very repetitive activity like many other activities in life, and I guess it's fun to show to others that I don't get burnt out and that I am always excited because I like people to think of me as an energetic, tough person who will never quit. Running is a way of expressing myself and I like to tell others through my running that I am unique because I am a highly dedicated person who is also very passionate about what I set my heart to. If I start to put too much pressure on myself and I feel like I'm bordering on burn out I tell myself that at least I'm running while others are sitting around being sedentary and not even trying. I try to focus on how fit and beautiful I am becoming by running or something else if I feel too tired to push myself hard enough to reach my bigger goals until I feel like I can face my bigger goals again."

Thanks for the great interview Mary Ann!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this Kalina! It's been a while since I wrote this but it's good for me to read it again to remind myself to keep trying. Hope your running is going well!

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