Do you ever feel like you know you could be achieving more? Not just as a runner, but as a woman too—like there’s a vast amount of untapped potential inside yourself, if only you could reach it. Crossing that barrier can be tough, but it’s not impossible.
“Unlocking your potential sounds really big and complex,” says Kimberly Clark, our 360 YOU spring mentor. “But really it’s just small game changers that, once implemented, change everything.”
So much of accessing that potential requires a dedication to self that we often struggle to implement as women. So much of our time is taken up by work and after-hours work—moreso than men. Studies and studies have shown that women are more productive, work harder, and still do hours more of childcare of housework daily than their male counterparts.
Unlocking your inner potential should not require taking on more. We want to focus on four pillars of your life (training, purpose, lifestyle, and nutrition) where leaning into certain habits—dedicating your energy to them—and leaning out of others—the ones that don’t serve you—can change the game.
Unlocking Your Potential: Refocus Your Energy in these Four Areas
Small shifts in your training, nutrition, purpose, and lifestyle can result in big overall changes.
In training, there are a few key concepts that Clark recommends sticking to: focusing on form, seasonal training audits, and working on your mental game. “With training, it’s so important to have an awareness with it so that you can audit your training and understand what needs to change to get to that next level,” she says.
Are you taking your easy runs easy (“very easy,” says Clark)? What about training your mind as well as your body? “Conceptually, you can know that you need to do these things, but if you’re not being honest with yourself in training, like running your easy runs slightly faster than what you’re supposed to, then you’re not letting these game changers work for you,” she says. “That’s why doing a seasonal audit of your training is so helpful to make sure that you’re doing everything you can to unlock your potential.”
For Clark, working on her form was one of the biggest things she did to change her running. “I put it off for years because it sounded really difficult to do, but once I figured out the small tangible steps I could take daily, it was something I was able to practice everyday on my easy runs,” she says. “Once my form improved, I had taken the ceiling off my running potential.”
“For too long, the only thing I thought of with nutrition was restricting so I could be lighter so I could reach a weight that I thought would help me reach my potential,” says Clark. “Now I know better: I need to fuel toward my goals.”
Switching her mindset from “lighter is faster” to “fueled is faster” was key for Clark to really tapping into her potential and allowing her to knock three hours off her marathon time. There can be such a focus on so-called “race weight” in running—with 360 YOU, we want to encourage you to run far away from that messaging.
“Food is the energy I need to reach my goals,” says Clark. “Once I really internalized and acted on that, I felt stronger and more powerful in my running.”
Clark also points to learning how to properly fuel for a race was a big stepping stone for her. “It’s so easy to underfuel on accident while racing, not realizing the huge energy demands racing is,” she says. “Getting a great fuel plan together for races is a game-changer.”
Clark has found a strong purpose in helping other runners through her super informative and approachable Instagram. But she didn’t always feel ready to talk directly to more than 130,000 followers.
“I had to start believing in me. I spent so long overestimating everyone around me and underestimating myself that I had to learn how to get some healthy confidence,” she says. Part of building up that confidence? Fake it ’til you make it.
“A lot of times speaking confident comes way before feeling confident,” Clark says. “So whether it’s mantras or affirmations, find ways to start incorporating powerful words that make you feel confident into your daily life. You’ll start believing it.”
This one can be challenging: find your worth outside of running. “In order to be my best self in running, I had to completely remove the worth I had tied to running,” says Clark. “Tying my worth to my running served as an anchor pulling me down. I have great value and worth no matter the distance or paces I run.”
Not tying your value to your accomplishments is a tough mental opportunity for those of us who love a sport that puts such a focus on results.
“In order to actually be my very best self in running, I had to find balance and sustainability. Everything in life works best when there is balance to it. And running is not just your physical performance—it’s your emotional and mental health,” says Clark. “It was a powerful release for me to no longer feel the debilitating pressure I had put on myself with running (and with other things in life).”