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Welcome to the Team

by EmKay Sullivan on August 11, 2021

I wasn’t always a runner. I started sports at a very young age. I think my parents were just trying to get me into activities that would bring my energy levels down. I was one of those I-can’t-go-to-bed-because-I-might-miss-something kind of kids.

It started with youth soccer and youth basketball when I was 5 years old. I think that team sports taught me how to respect others and work with people in a constructive yet competitive environment. By the time I was 8 years old I had also decided that I really wanted to join the local swim team. As a swimmer I started learning how much I enjoyed pushing myself to improve in sport. In swimming you’re always out there racing other people, but win or lose, I found that I could take solace in improving on my performance. Sometimes a PB brought me more joy and satisfaction than winning; it was all about doing my best on the day.

In the 8th grade my dad told me I should join the cross country team in order to help with my swimming. I thought he was crazy. Running sucked. It was hard. It hurt. But I kept at it.

Here we are 13 years later….I’m still running for myself but I also have the great privilege of being a coach in the sport. I think I was always very fortunate to have older women to look up to in athletics at every new juncture. When I was in the 9th grade I got asked to run with the high school team a couple of times for big meets. In doing so I was able to follow along with a group of senior girls who were killing it. I saw them push hard in races, run fast times and sign scholarships to run in college. They opened the door to the sport for me, taught me what it meant to lead, and how to become a leader myself. From great women role models I learned how to build up others, and that’s a principle I try to bring into my coaching every day.

When I got to college at the University of Nevada I was a long way from home in Arkansas, but I was quickly welcomed into a women’s only team that had a LOT of strong personalities. It was a bit hard to navigate as someone who had only ever been on a cross country team with 7-8 women and a track team of around 15. All of the sudden I was surrounded by 40+ incredibly strong female athletes who were all trying to be the best at what they did. It was inspiring. I clung to the backs of the upperclass women who were leading the way and let them take me to a new level of training. I learned a lot from these women before they graduated and left me to be a team leader. I’m very thankful for that.

One of the more critical lessons I learned was the importance of patience and consistency in our sport and life. Training is a process…it doesn’t just happen overnight. Your body is going to change and it needs to change in order for your career to have longevity. Don’t fight it. Look out for FUTURE YOU and don’t worry so much about the now; the instant gratification, the splits in one specific workout. FUEL YOURSELF! What you look like shouldn’t define your success as much as good solid training. How you feel, how you race, how you handle yourself, has been my focus. These factors are more important to me than the number on the scale (I don’t weigh myself anymore. I know how I feel in training, THAT predicts race potential, NOT my weight).

The moment you start letting external factors influence your journey it stops becoming fun. The whole reason we are in this is because we enjoy seeing how far we can take our bodies…or bettter yet, how far our bodies can take us. Remember, YOU are the one who gets up early to run those miles before work or school. YOU are the one who goes to bed early to recover when friends and family are staying up late. YOU are the one who invests in yourself day in and day out. So, YOU have the privilege of defining your own SUCCESS. Whether that’s a few second PR in a road 5k, completing a 5k at all(!), running a marathon, or your first ultra, or running on days you’d rather not because you know a good day’s right around the corner. Remember that YOU are in this for YOU.

Not all days are stellar. That’s for the honest truth. Some days are great, some okay and some terrible. I’ve found that the support from strong women in my life, the lessons they’ve given me, help me get through the tough times. Sometimes all we need to do is take a step back and remember our our WHY in this sport to allow the bad days to happen and have believe that good days are around the corner. Get out the door and find a group of womenwho support you and your running journey!! Lift each other up instead of comparing and tearing.

Thank you for welcoming me into the Craft family! I can’t wait to bring you on my journey!

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