Harrison practices meditation to build confidence, become one of top runners for SU

first_img Published on February 18, 2015 at 12:10 am Contact Sam: [email protected] | @Sam4TR Facebook Twitter Google+ Doubts were the only thoughts in Shaina Harrison’s mind.Syracuse assistant coach Dave Hegland had prefaced Harrison’s first collegiate meet with confidence-boosting words about how her race would was taking place on a fast track.“So I go in thinking that I’ll break records and win all the races,” Harrison said. “My first round wasn’t anywhere close to what I had expected. I started to doubt myself. I thought, ‘Maybe I’m not as fast as I think I am.’”After her second heat didn’t show any significant improvement, Harrison became overwhelmed. She started to cry.Now, two years later, she’s met those expectations. The junior sprinter returns for her track season coming off of an NCAA championship appearance in the 100-meter dash — not even her best event. Harrison’s evolution from the emotionally frayed freshman to the self-confident, in-control runner has been a journey of research and self-discovery through meditation.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textLast year, Harrison qualified for the Atlantic Coast Conference championship meet. Since she had no pre-existing expectations of excellence, Harrison didn’t think too much about the meet. She ran a personal record, finished second and qualified for the national championship meet.“It’s funny,” Harrison said Hegland told her. “You came in thinking, ‘I wasn’t even going to make it here in the first place’ so your thought process was that you’d be happy with whatever happened. You ran a great race.”Harrison thought that if she didn’t have pressure to run, she’d perform better. But the tricky part was that she felt pressure if she thought she should run well.She did extensive research and eventually found that meditation relaxed her. It helped Harrison focus on goals and empty her mind of anything else.Now, every morning after Harrison awakes, she says a prayer, meditates for 10–20 minutes and does breathing exercises in her University Village apartment.“Once the negative thoughts and doubts start coming, I know how to handle it,” she said. “And how to help myself and relax and be in the moment instead of thinking of the end result and self-doubt.”Her focus on positive energy translates to the track where Harrison visualizes herself succeeding before she’s even left the blocks.She zones out, and clears her mind of anything irrelevant. Her mind becomes empty aside from the images of her success playing in her head on a loop. She looks down her lane and, in her words, “whatever happens, happens.”“She has always been mature overall but I’ve seen her grow in this sport,” SU volunteer assistant Flings Joyner Owusu-Agyapong said in an email. “This sport can be really mental, and I’ve seen her handling situations better than she would have, say, her freshman year.”Harrison’s become a more consistent runner, and Hegland says that’s her best attribute. The head coach tracks all his runners’ progressions in graphs, and Harrison’s rose and fell in her first year and a half before leveling out since then.“Every time she stepped on the track as a sophomore outdoors,” Hegland said. “She was better than her best day as a freshman.”It’s been a process of becoming – and a fight to stay – positive for Harrison.Now, Harrison says she’s become a mentor to her roommate Rebecca Robinson and is helping others while blossoming as a runner — a year after she struggled to help herself.“Even if she doesn’t run well one day, she’s not the type of person to dwell on it,” Robinson said. “She thinks, ‘Well, I’ll get them next time.’” Commentslast_img read more