Hive Gold athlete Ellie Abrahamson attended Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC, and ran NCAA D1 Cross Country & Track. After graduating in May 2017, she pursued professional triathlon for a year under USA Triathlon’s Collegiate Recruitment Program in San Diego, CA. Ellie shares how she transitioned from a sport she liked to a sport she loves.
With the support from USA Triathlon, I could afford to train full-time. I felt great about my decision, but as months of high volume training went by, I began to question my love for the sport. Doubt festered in my mind for weeks. Eventually, getting out of bed started to feel impossible. I kept telling myself to “push through – triathlon is supposed to be hard,” until a thought finally hit me mid-swim one day – I don’t have a passion for swimming and biking like I do for running. I like swimming and biking, but I don’t love them enough to justify training for triathlon.
I left triathlon that day and spent the following week in mental crisis mode, asking myself over and over again what I wanted to do with my life. I couldn’t figure out if I wanted to pursue running (but at what level?), leave competitive athletics behind completely (time for the corporate world!), or balance the two. I talked to my parents and sisters extensively about my situation, searching for some sort of clarity in their advice.
Then I stumbled upon a job position posted by Atlanta Track Club Elite – “Olympic Marathon Hopeful.” Based on the job description, I would get paid to run and work part-time for the club, with the goal of representing Atlanta Track Club Elite at the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials. My jaw dropped – it sounded too good to be true. I immediately reached out to the coach and sent in my application. We had a phone conversation shortly after that, during which he offered to fly me out for a visit.
After touring Atlanta, meeting my potential teammates, and thinking way too deeply about my life for another two weeks, I accepted the job position, packed my bags and moved across the country. Training started immediately upon arriving, and I’ve been finding races across the United States to compete in. I even raced in a local community cross country race with hay bales where I took first!
Every day, I train with the Honey Stinger mentality – I love the satisfaction of physically challenging myself, pushing myself to the limit and working harder at something than I ever have before. However, the mental aspect of sport is often neglected in comparison to the physical. To perform my best as an athlete, I need to be “on” physically and mentally. Thus, it’s necessary to take a step back from my physical work every once in a while and ask myself if I truly love the challenge that I’m pursuing.
In my situation this past year, the real challenge wasn’t training. The challenge was leaving triathlon after putting so much time, effort and money into it. I neglected my happiness and continued to train regardless of my lack of passion – a mistake I will never make again because a strong mentality is key to success in athletics. You can train hard, but without the right
mentality, your physical investments won’t pay off.
Although I know I’ll get stung a few times along this professional running journey, I’m up for challenge, and I can’t wait to see where this opportunity takes me.