Kara Goucher did something last year that no American woman had done in 15 years at the World Championships: win a distance medal. So what's she proudest about?
"I'm super proud of that medal, but it's not like looking at it motivates me," Goucher said. "It's more the memories of (the race) and how I took control of my running, how I took control of my own destiny."
Like all great athletes, the result is secondary to the process. Train for the result, bot focus on the process. Sure, you look at the process differently when you succeed, but even if Kara had gone for it and finished fourth (a la Matt Tegenkamp in the 5k), she probably would have said something similar. She trained hard, she prepared masterfully, and when the time came, she took her shot, telling herself:
"Kara, this the moment. You either take risks or you don't. Don't settle for fourth. You have to try."
But that's the way it is with elite athletes, right? They are so talented that they just do it, and then they explain it to us in ways that we can relate to. I mean, right? Not always. There's another part of the article that is especially insightful and personal, and that should be equally inspiring to young runners who aren't finding everything to be going perfectly for them.
Kara has battled constantly with self-doubt. But she's been able to control it by taking the same approach to working on her mind as her body. She has literally trained her mind to overcome those demons.
"One of my weaknesses is that I doubt myself," Goucher said. "But I work on it just like training. I battle it every time I run, but I am winning the battle."
Sounds pretty normal, eh? The only thing that's not normal about Kara is her approach to overcoming it. She's applying a world-class work ethic and training approach to her mind. Sure, she's doing it because she has to, but even if she didn't have to, it would only help.
I can't wait to see her go head-to-head with Flanagan at the Olympic Trials. Let's hope that self-doubt is still well under control.