Athlete /ˈaTHlēt/: a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina.
It takes courage to shout out loud, “I am an ATHLETE!” Each person has his/her own vision of what an athlete is, what they look like, how they train, what they eat, blah, blah, blah, and so it’s intimidating for people to make this statement with confidence. Other people might tell you you’re not. You know what? Forget them.
You are an athlete. Period. End of story. You know why? Because you’re committed to and train for your sport of choice. It’s as simple as that. You don’t have to compete to be an athlete. You don’t have to win money or have endorsements to be an athlete. You don’t have to look like Gabrielle Reese (!) or David Beckham to be an athlete. You don’t even have to win to be an athlete.
But you do have to train. And part of that training is mental training. You have to believe you can do it. There was a great Nike ad years ago that I cut out of a magazine (probably Runner’s World) that was titled, “In My Mind, I Am A Kenyan” and one of the lines went like this, “The Kenyans believe they will win sure as the sun will shine” it goes on to say (I’m paraphrasing) that in order to beat them, you could match their training, but you’d have to also match their faith in themselves. You could train all day long, but if you show up at a race with a negative attitude, you’re not fully prepared for that race.
Start now. Think “I am an athlete” and treat yourself as such. Respect yourself as an athlete. Respect your training and your coaches as an athlete should. Respect the sport and your personal limitations as every athlete must. But above all, be proud to call yourself an athlete. You’ve worked hard for that title. NEVER let anyone take it away from you. Your medal for coming in 22, 789th in the NYC marathon is the same as the person who placed 33rd and you worked just as hard, if not harder, to get there.
So next time you go to label yourself someone who simply “works out” or “runs”, go ahead and say instead, “I’m an athlete.” Own it. Believe it.
Now go out and run, you ATLETE!