An Athlete's Mentality

Jul 6, 2023

 by Liz Rodriguez

I decided to listen to an episode of one of my favorite podcasts, The Pathless Path, during my long run this past weekend.  The host interviewed a former rugby athlete who became an author and his journey there.  He wrote a book about his transition from athlete to civilian and it hit home for me.  If you've read my bio you would know that I was a college runner.  But to dive into that story, I was really just a walk-on (athlete who tries out for a team and is given a spot but with no money or scholarship) who spent the first 2 years getting the shit kicked out of her.  Every day was a race.  When you have no raw talent as a runner, the easiest thing they can do is make you a long distance runner.  Have the person endure months of volume (60+ mile weeks) and if they can cut it without getting hurt, you'll have a decent 5 or 10K runner by their third year.  Enter Liz.

Athletics became my life around junior year in high school.  I learned about a summer running camp my parents allowed me to partake in and everything changed for me.  I met people who were decorated athletes, people who would go on to run in college and compete at a professional level. I learned more about discipline and about what it took to become a better runner.  It's not that I didn't participate in sports growing up.  I played softball, soccer, and volleyball.  But I was never very good and did it more because my parents put me in sports to teach me about being on a team.

When I returned home from those 2 weeks at camp I was fierce.  I toed the line my junior year cross country and wasn't the back of the pack anymore.  By my senior year I placed second at my last cross country and track race and even went to state as an alternate for one of our long distance relays.  When I went away to college I was homesick that first night.  I had no idea how to acclimate to college life and what was missing was the structure of my year round sports that I had had for the last 4 years. When I made it onto the team it allowed me the opportunity to call myself a Division 1 athlete. But more importantly it taught me discipline, courage and grit.

I didn't go on to become an All American or go pro.  On the contrary I didn't get to compete in our conference championships my junior year when it was ISU (my own college) who hosted, and I almost missed my senior year conference championships due to bullshit from my head coach.  But I came away from those 4 years knowing that I was tougher than I ever thought possible and my work ethic was exceptional.  When I entered the fitness industry I learned how valuable those 2 things are when you compete against your teammates and have to convince people who are older than you and have more money that you are deserving to be their personal trainer.

I'm telling you all of this because when I first began having back pain and neck pain in my mid twenties, I thought I would simply take some time off and get back to it.  When I began to gain weight I told myself I just needed to put in more work.  And even after my back surgery I thought that once I hit that 90-day mark I would resume my workouts and everything would go back to normal.  That's the thing about the athlete's mindset.  It's sort of one speed, one level.  I may have stopped competing at the collegiate level at age 22 but I really didn't fully embrace my next chapter until age 36.  

When I say next chapter I mean listening to my body.  I mean being okay knowing that there would be things I would never be able to do again workout wise.  I mean gritting my teeth and giving in when I had to ask someone for help.  I mean dropping the whole invincible attitude and making decisions that were smart for the long term, not for the short term.

I am grateful for having the ability and opportunity to compete at the collegiate level.  It taught me so much and it has helped me so much in my life, specifically in my career as a leader on teams.  It's taught me to have the discipline to create a structured environment for my team members so that they could grow and thrive.  It's taught me how to be patient with clients and help them to celebrate their fitness goals.  Most of all it gave me the confidence to pursue my life goals.  I get to help people in fitness.  I get to teach people who to take care of themselves and live healthier and fuller lives.

As I continue to grow and expand my business, my athlete's mentality has given me the courage to not give in or give up. Those days I am frustrated with learning how to build a program in software or how to link a landing page I am reminded that the end goal is creating more tools to reach more people. As long as I can remember that, my strength and perseverance will see that dream come to fruition.  If you're interested in learning more about my upcoming programs or how to work together, set up a call here!