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I Share One Of My False Starts In Life

I Share One Of My False Starts In Life

“Set goals. Push boundaries. Blow your own mind. Repeat often.”
— Cara Alwill Leyba

I remember my first false start. I was a college sophomore student-athlete at the National Outdoor Track and Field Championships. That year, it was held in California, right outside of Los Angeles. If my memory serves me correctly, I had only qualified for one individual race, the 100m dash.

A short sprinter trains hard for months at a time to run a race that, if you’re good at, won’t last more than 12 seconds. I had spent the long winter months running for miles to build up my endurance. Then, in spring, I would weight-train to build up strength; by that time, I could bench-press more than my body weight. Speed and endurance are both needed to run a short race at top speed.

My false start happened before I could even hope to make it to the finals. A false start is defined as an invalid or disallowed start to a race, usually due to a competitor beginning before the official signal has been given. Here’s how it happened. The official called my heat to the starting blocks. They shout out three commands: “On your mark! Set! And then they shoot off a gun so that there is no question that you should “Go!” When a sprinter hears “On your mark!” it means that now is the time to get into your starting blocks. When we hear “Set!” it means that we should get into proper form to blast off from those starting blocks. In this particular race, I heard 2 shots. The first one started the race. The second one ended the race more than likely a fraction of a second after it had begun. It was for me. I had been disqualified because, according to officials, I attempted to leave my starting block before it was time.

I’ve learned that in life, you will experience multiple false starts. A false start is also defined as an unsuccessful attempt to begin something. I had unsuccessfully begun my race. You may, as I have, experienced false starts in your career, your fitness journey, your love life, your spiritual journey, or your finances.

Does that mean you should give up on goals that you started before you were prepared to? No. Duh. But I’ll be honest, when I was disqualified, I walked off pouting and went off to a fence to cry. I didn’t want my coach to say anything to me nor did I want to look him in the face. False starts can be embarrassing but they should not be crippling.

If you have or are currently experiencing a false start, sulk just for a bit. Then, get back into it. I went on to become an All-American 6 times after that race!

Note: If you’re done having false starts with your fitness journey, I have a free challenge starting August 14th called the #CinchedWaistChallenge. I provide workout regimens and meal plans for 30 days (5 days a week for 6 weeks). Email me at tai@taimarie.com to join!

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