Kara Goucher: Change Is Hard
I just returned home from my second hard session with my new training group. I got killed in the workout. I am exhausted, sore, and full of hope. Earlier this week I joined my new group. I am honored and excited to have been welcomed by Jerry Schumacher to join his group of the OTC Elite. I feel so lucky to be able to train under an incredible coach and along side two of the best female runners the US has ever produced.
My decision to leave the Oregon Project was a very difficult one and a decision that I gave endless thought and consideration. I have had my best years under Alberto Salazar and after 7 years together he certainly knows me better as an athlete than anyone besides my husband. I have blossomed under him, going from an often injured nobody to a World Championship bronze medalist and Major Marathon podium finisher. To say that Alberto has helped me find myself and my career would be a massive understatement. He has forever changed my life and I feel eternal gratitude toward him.
But sometimes a situation that was perfect for you at one point in the past, is no longer the best fit for you in the present. In the past year I have realized that I need people to train with to help keep me accountable. Unfortunately my former teammate was injured quite a bit this past year, so I spent much of my time training alone or with my husband. While this worked (I did set a PR in the marathon) When I looked at myself in the mirror I knew that I could be doing more and pushing myself harder. This is where being in a group setting is necessary. If I know that Shalane Flanagan and Lisa Ulh (formerly Koll) are waiting for me to run at 8:30 in the morning, I'm going to get up and meet them because I don't want to let them down. Instead of slogging along at a pace slower than I should be running, I'm going to run with the group and not want to hold them back.
In the end I have to hold myself accountable. It is my career and my responsibility to do what I need to do to be the best I can be. I had to make a change if I really wanted to reach the goals I had set for myself. I had to get out of my comfort zone and get into a situation that was going to really push me.
I can't tell you how welcoming Shalane and Lisa have been to me. Instead of feeling territorial or worried that I would disrupt their great dynamic, they have supported and encouraged me. It is like being in this sisterhood where you are dedicated to getting the best out of each other. I am convinced that this is the best situation I could be in and I feel so blessed to have a great coach, group, and two women to work with me. After my first hard session with them Wednesday, where I cut out of the workout literally miles before they did, they sent me encouraging and supportive texts. It feels good to be in this group, and I believe that we are going to help each other get to special places.
Change is hard. It has been emotional, scary, and I've certainly had my doubts. But sometimes a reality check in the mirror tells you exactly what you already know. Sometimes you have to shake things up to get to where you want to be. I feel really lucky to have found such an amazing group of people to chase my dreams with.