Trust Yourself

A few months ago, I mentioned that I was training for a race in November and then my fitness life dropped off the side of the earth on my blog. Well, that fitness drought has ended: YA GIRL RACED LAST WEEKEND!

From stumbling through injuries for majority of the summer to making it to the start line in November for my very first 5000M/5K USATF (USA Track and Field) Sanctioned Race was honestly such an amazing feeling; I honestly felt like someone needed to pinch me because I couldn't believe I was finally at the start line.

Injuries can either get you down and make your motivation go through some deep dives or you can be an optimist and trust that your recovery process will ensure that you are ready and able to race. I fell into the first category. It's been a long journey in trusting my training process; I'm easily discouraged by seeing other runners have official coaches and have the timing that I need to Qualify for the Olympic Trials. But here's the thing I'm constantly reminding myself: Just because someone is where you want to be that doesn't mean there's no room for you at the table; it just means your seat is in the VIP section and is waiting to be unlocked by you.

The night before the race, I happened to be looking at the website and saw that there was a video of the path that we runners would be running. In the video there were a few hills and I hadn't put hill running in my training schedule. Hello panic. Now, to stop myself from falling into the you-aren't-going-to-do-well hole, I decided to open Spotify and stumbled on the Fearless Motivation - Motivation Podcast. And in all honesty it calmed me down, if you ever feel like you're not going to well at something even though you full well know you are prepared, I'd recommend giving it a listen.

If anyone was curious about what I had for dinner to fuel me up the next day - I had some whole wheat pasta with tomato sauce (pretty sure I ate about half the pot even though serving size was most definitely not one). The morning of the race was misty raining, and I've run in the rain before so it wasn't a problem. Driving to said race location however was straight up origami.

here we have rlly nervous Sahara stretching

There was a lot of construction happening so a lot of the roads were closed which meant my GPS was constantly re-routing and I kept having to make twists and turns only to make it to another 'road closed' sign. Eventually I made it to the race location to pick up my bib and as I was walking to pick it up I saw a few people with USATF sweaters and uh wow hello nerves. This was starting to feel real official real fast.

Also, something else I read online was that runners weren't allowed to race USATF Sanctioned Races with devices/headphones. (It depends on the race director present.) Personally this wasn't a problem, I've been running without headphones to keep my focus on my form so no headphones/with headphones was chill with me. The thing that was not so chill with me was the no device thing. I use my Nike App to track my pacing,  how would I know how long it took me per mile without it?

So, as I was leaving the Bib pick up area, I saw two officials (inner me wanted to abort immediately) and asked them if it was okay if I ran with my phone on my arm. They were really chill and told me it was completely fine to run with my phone. WHEW.

I went to open my bag to grab my armband and guess what ya girl left on the table at home? My armband that I use to put my phone in.

 Since it was raining I was wearing a running jacket from my university and! IT HAD ZIPPER POCKETS!

My mom wished me good luck and I weaved myself in through the crowd to be in the front. As a solo runner it was really awesome seeing other runners - I'm easily encouraged to go faster by seeing other runners. So, the bell was off and it was time to go full speed ahead. 

I'm the person right under the flag! Photo quality not the greatest but my mama did her best!

Here is a checklist I made for myself in the event that you're also a runner and are gearing up for a race:

1. How's your breathing?
 Keep it under control. Your shoulders should be back and as you run allow your chest to lead your chin - do not slouch. If you slouch your shoulders you aren't allowing enough air into your body.

2. Are you going too fast too early?
Conserve your energy but don't conserve it too much. By the second mile you'll have found your rhythm but in that first mile make sure that you are going at a controlled pacing & you're not huffing and puffing like you're about to be a guest star in Little Red Riding Hood.

Although I easily get encouraged by seeing other runners I also wanted to keep in mind that I need to go MY PACE not the pace I see around me. If I went too fast in the beginning, I'd lack the energy to finish strong. So my tip for any runner is you know yourself. Trust Yourself. Pick up the pace with your breathing in control.

For mile 1 and 2 I made sure to keep an eye on the lead car that was guiding us runners, I wanted to finish in the top half so keeping eye on it was pretty much where all my focus was. Since I wasn't running with music I was pretty much aware of every little thing. You may be wondering why exactly am I mentioning Breathing so much in this post. That's because the runners around me were huffing and puffing and didn't have it under control. If your breathing is under control you're going to have an amazing run, just remember that!

extremely blurry/grainy of me from zooming in - my mom was trying to only get me in the photo haha!
also I'm levitating so clearly someone did the wingardium leviosa spell 

One other thing I was really aware of was of the people who stood out of their homes and cheered us on at 10AM on a Saturday. 10AM on a Saturday I'm pretty sure everyone's hitting the snooze button but here these people were cheering on runners they didn't know just because they wanted to. As I was nearing the end of my third mile, another female runner who finished was standing on the sidelines and said 'You may not feel great, but you look great!'. 

I crossed the finish line with a time of 27:57 and was so happy to see a bottle of water. They had water stations for each mile, I only grabbed a cup on mile 2, but speeding while drinking a cup of  water isn't really the most effective way to get water into your system. 

There was a little section of bagels, coffee and granola bars to fuel ourselves back up which great because I was starving. I had eggs at 7:00AM - so a few hours before the race to allow my system to digest it - and pretty much needed some energy after finishing. 

As I was attempting to butter my bagel with a spoon (I really don't know who decided THAT was the utensil needed to spread butter) they started taping up the times on a wall. I had to weave through a bunch of people and finally found my name with a number 3 next it in a column named Place Category. I kind of didn't know what that meant and tried to ask but everyone was trying to see their own times. So I just took a picture of it and went back to where my mom was standing and the thing is inner me KNEW what the 3 stood for but outer me was kind of in shock.

I placed third for my Age Category and would be getting a medal.

Overall, I placed 265/500+ Runners and was the 95th female to cross the finish line. I just raced the way I trained and honestly that made the phrase 'trust your training process' real for me. In the beginning, when I was warming up, I saw a lot of runners with professional looking jackets. It kind of made me a bit unsure of my own ability because who was I? I wasn't part of a running group, I didn't have any sponsors, I was just me. 

And being just me was more than enough.

I'm going to end this post with this:

 Not everyone has the same path to get to a single destination. For me, I stopped running after High School because my track coach insulted and cursed at whoever wasn't the ~best~. The idea was that you'd start pushing yourself harder. For some it motivated, for others like myself it made me not pursue college running. 

I recently came across a study showing which runner did better - the one who was insulted by their coach or the coach who encouraged and spoke kindly to their runners regardless of how they performed.

Those that were encouraged and had kind coaches were faster.

I came back to the running world towards the end of my second year at university, and began training more seriously in my third & fourth year and am now working towards making it to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as a 5000M Runner for Team USA.

It doesn't matter when you pick up a sport/skill, that doesn't determine how far you'll go in it. YOU determine how far you'll go in it.

ps: if you are curious about my training I actually document every run + upload Run With Me's every Monday (showing what running I did that whole week) on my YouTube Channel!


  1. Congratulations my lovely, you did amazingly! What an amazing achievement for you!

    Love, Amie ❤
    The Curvaceous Vegan

  2. Congratulations on completing your first one and coming third for your age! I've been in both categories when it comes to injury. Learning to trust your body again is so hard so well done for carrying on x


    1. Thank you so much Sophie! A lot of stumbling through injuries to make it to this race but! finally! made! it!

      I can definitely agree with you, once you've ~healed~ from your injuries and are starting out from the beginning again it's more a mental process of trusting your body again. Anytime I came back from an injury, I was always scared that one misstep would send me back to the recovering lane; it took me a while to relax into regular running without the constant fear I'd be injured.

      I think I remember you mentioning you had an injury before and I really hope that you've fully healed and found yourself back into running again ❤️❤️❤️

  3. Congratulations Sahara! That is such a fantastic achievement and well done for coming third in your age group! That is so impressive! It sounds like it was such a great event, especially as people came out of their houses to cheer you on. That must have been so encouraging. Thank you for sharing your tips, so much great advice here! Great post lovely <3 xx

    Bexa |

    1. Thank you so much Bexa! I honestly couldn't believe it when I saw I was in third place for my age group, it really was a someone-please-pinch me moment! It's been about 3 years since I've last raced and it was just so amazing seeing & hearing the crowds cheer all us runners on - it truly was just such an amazing environment to be in!

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting Bexa, it really means a lot to me! ❤️❤️❤️

  4. You are so beautiful! I love that you made yourself a checklist! I am a runner myself, and running gives me complete peace but it is still a love/hate relationship for me! My number one tip would be just to keep practicing that breathing and relaxing your shoulders and upper body! The rest will follow along!

    1. You're so so sweet, so kind of you to say, thank you!!! And yay another runner! I always make sure that my breathing is in control, if my breathing is off the whole run is off.

      Yes! Great tip right there! I used to have really tense shoulders but once I relaxed them it really made every run that much better and faster too!

  5. This was such an interesting read sahara and congratulations on doing so well in the 5k, especially after a break. You are far more advanced than me but, hopefully, I will improve as time goes on. I saw that you say that you upload your training and runs to YouTube so will definitely go take a look.

    Congrats again!


    1. Thank you so much!! It's took me a while to get to this start line as I had a lot of injuries come up throughout the summer, but I'm so so happy to have finally been able to race and be completely injury-free! You've totally got this, I believe in you, each day you run you're progressing.

      And yes! I upload my running for the week every Monday, it's a fun way to see that I'm progressing each week - if you decide to give one of the week's a watch, I hope you enjoy coming running with me!

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

  6. What a fantastic achievement you must be so proud. I couldn't run 5k. I wish I could. Well done. 💚

    1. Thank you so much!! And never say never, you can do anything you set your mind to, you got this! You can start with a shorter distance and move up when you feel you're ready to :)