Striving Through Struggle

Hi Flrunners! I’m Adair Lyden, a sophomore at Lake Nona High School in Orlando. I wanted to take this time to share my story and hopefully encourage those who are going through the same ordeal I have been experiencing -- how to progress as a runner while your body is growing (and seems to be fighting against you).

To start off, I’ve been running since I was 11 years old, four-feet tall and 49 pounds. At the time, I never had dreams of going far in running, but I experienced early success on the state level in my 7th and 8th grade years that made me think that progress will always happen. Each year, a new PR was my expectation. However, this past cross country season brought that dream to a sudden halt.

It was my worst year competing. I did not perform up to the standards I had envisioned for myself nor to the ones others had set for me. Every race seemed be a bitter disappointment as I kept wondering what was wrong with me. I tried and tried to push myself, but my body just could not go. Doubt crept in then began to take hold. I hit “the wall” so many times and fell down, that I did not want to get back up. I felt like I was done. I wanted to quit.

I was confused on what had happened. I soon realized it was puberty. As a young eighth grader, seeing high schoolers who were once my age, I thought “Oh that’s all mental,” and that I would be one of the first girls to be able to battle through it and not let it affect me. But I realized that I wasn’t immune. I grew a lot from my freshman to sophomore year, and this caused a lot of pain in my bones, joints and muscles. I began to look strong, but I did not feel strong.

The reason why I’m sharing this is because I know I’m not the only one who has gone through this, but it’s so hard for us -- especially as young ladies to talk about it. As I am beginning to experience “the other side” and starting to feel (and race) like myself again, I wanted to share an image that my dad shared with me that helped me understand the purpose of challenges.

We are like caterpillars struggling and pushing against the dark cocoon (our challenge) striving for breakthrough. We know that the harder we struggle, without losing hope, the stronger our wings will become, and the higher we will eventually fly when we break out. That is the hope I have and the hope I share with you; to any of you going through a similar experience.

Never lose sight of that runner you were before, the one who loved running and never wanted to stop, because in fact when this is all over, you’ll be a new and improved you. Use this journey and apply it to different areas of you life. For me, this journey has helped me grow in my faith. Carry yourself with pride and enjoy this gift that God has so openhandedly given.

Although I have spent most of this year in tears and doubting myself, I would not trade this experience. It’s a humbling situation that God uses to strengthen us and make us the people he desires us to be.

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