Q: How Can I Keep Running for Myself, and Keep Outside Expectations from Ruining it.

Hi Lauren,

I have been struggling with getting back the competitive edge that I had in high school. I came from a small team and had an amazing relationship with my coach. Running gave me a great outlet to be competitive and have fun with teammates.

Since I started running in college, I struggled to find my niche. My body hasn’t agreed with the coaching style and the atmosphere doesn’t fit with my personality. I know that I have yet to fulfill my potential as an athlete but every time I get that great feeling following a workout where you know that you’re ready to race fast, it’s followed by injury.

I recently decided to transfer to the D-2 school in my hometown in hopes rejuvenating my relationship with running and racing on a new team where I know the coach. I really want to fit in with my new teammates and come in with a great attitude toward running.

At the same time, I’m worried that I won’t be able to live up to the expectations of the running community at home. Do you have any advice for keeping running for yourself and team mates without associating it with expectations from parents and friends?



Hey Margaret!

This is such a good question. I can’t even tell you how glad I am you asked it!

You are going through the quintessential experience of being 20-something (and damn its hard). And so far, you are totally nailing it. Your first college experience was toxic for you, and you had the wisdom to recognize that, and the courage to do something about it.

And now, you are anticipating the things that could hold you back in this new environment and are proactive about preventing them. Double your score there. Well done.

You are going to be great in your new environment, and I’ll tell you how I know: behind everything you wrote is an intense desire to live your life well and be your true self.  ALWAYS MAKE SURE THAT IS THE REASON BEHIND WHAT YOU DO and you will thrive.

So enough patting you on the back (even though you well deserve it).  Here’s what I think you need to do now that you are moving back home: Get your push-up bra on and continue to claim your space as a grown woman.  Spray your pheromones around, I don’t care how you do it, but you need to set boundaries in those relationships you are worried about.

Know this: The harder you lean on someone for support, the more power they have to screw with your balance, even if they have the best of intentions. If you have over-involved people, i.e. parents, you simply need to cut them out of 75% of what goes on in YOUR running.  A healthy adult relationship means discussing your pursuits pretty equally, so if you know less about the other person’s favorite hobby than they know about your running, you need to cut things back.

If your community focuses too much on your running, give them something else to care about: volunteer, be a mentor for an at-risk teen, contribute in some other way and the pressure will dissipate.  Be proactive about lowering the expectations of those around you.  The number of people in your inner circle should be very small, and they should be carefully chosen (parents do not get automatic entry).  Surround yourself with people who are positive and unconditionally supportive, even if you have to find people who know NOTHING about running in order to do that.

Last reminder that I’m sure you already know: You can be a team player, but you don’t run for your team mates.  You run for you.  Team mates change every year, and teams are made up of individuals in various stages of their own lives.  Contribute your best self to your team, and carefully take in the best selves of those around you. The better your filter for negativity, the more successful you will be!

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