I started running track my junior year of high school and continued running for a division one Big Ten University during college. After consistent practice and coaching, the day of the meet would always be the same. As I slipped into my zone, I would often tell myself, “stay in your lane and run your race.” For the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes, I was given a lane and had to run my race in the same lane the entire time. For the 400-meter dash, I would start in one lane but cut into the most inner lane during the race. Despite the competition, I had to stay in my lane, run my race, and get to the finish line. Even with the support I had from my family, friends, teammates, and coach, during race day, it was just God and me running the race. I would have to block out all distractions that included, my support system and all spectators in the stands. Some spectators were there cheering for my team, and some were there supporting their teams. Regardless if they were rooting for or against a positive outcome for my race, it didn’t matter because I had to run my race in my lane. When I got to the starting line, my routine was the same, I prayed and then blocked out all noise. I had blinders on and a sniper focus on getting to the finish line. If I was in lane four, I did not worry about who was in the other lanes, their previous experience, if their times were better than mine, none of that matter. I had my assignment to run my race, and that is what I did.
I have since applied this same principle to every stage of life: Stay in your lane and run your race!
For all of the graduate students reading this blog, here are three pieces of advice to help you run your best race:
- First, stop listening to the noise. No matter what, there will be people who continue to doubt your ability or discourage you while you are trying to accomplish your goals. Pay them no mind, their feelings have little to do with your race and everything to do with their own self-doubt and shortcomings. Once you realize it might be you in your own way as your most significant distraction during your race, they may be easy to overcome. Self-doubt? Push through it. The world often reminds you what you are not by highlighting your insecurities. Speak life into yourself because you cannot wait for people in the world to encourage you during your race. Find three or four words that feed your soul. I often recite I am Blessed, Beautiful, Brilliant, and Brave.
- Second, stop worrying about what someone is not doing to help you get to the finish line. We spend too much time worrying about what other people do or do not do and often contribute their behavior to us not achieving our goals. Put the blinders on and run your race.
- Finally, stop giving too much power to powerless people or things. No one has control over you unless you give it to them. Reclaim your power and place it into running your race in your lane.
And if all else fails, remember this: stop getting distracted by the noise of the world or your self-doubt and stay in your lane!