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Episode #27

Journey to the Peak

with Grayson Murphy

16 Nov, 2020 · Track and Field

Grayson Murphy, Professional Runner, opens up about topics such as transferring schools, changing sports, switching pro groups, physical changes, and navigating performance anxiety, all in the pursuit of becoming the best version of herself.

Transcript

(background music starts)

Stef

Welcome to the Voice In Sport Podcast. I'm your host, Stef Strack, the founder of Voice In Sport as an athlete professional and mom, I have spent the last 20 years advocating for women and innovating across the sports industry. Now, I want to bring more visibility to female athletes and elevate their voice. At Voice In Sport we share untold stories from female athletes to inspire us all, to keep playing and change more than just the game.

Today's guest is Grayson Murphy. Grayson is a University of Utah alum and a 5x All-American for cross country and track. She is currently running professionally for SWAP, Some Work, All Play. I love her story because her path is unconventional. And she takes a lot of turns to find her way. Grayson has been successful in numerous distance running events ranging from the 1500 meter, the 3K Steeple, to trail running, where she recently earned the title of U.S. Mountain Running Champion in 2019, just after winning a USA Track and Field national title.

Grayson's path looks a little different than most division one runners, because she started college as a soccer player. If any of you are listening and wondering if you can switch it up or worried that you made the wrong decision, this episode will show you that you can always forge a new path. It's never too late.

Today, Grayson opened up about topics, such as transferring schools, changing sports, switching pro groups, all in the pursuit of making the right decision for herself. With these changes, inevitably comes changes in one's body and she explains how different sports and events will likely lead to physical changes. And that's all totally normal. We also go into great detail about her struggles with anxiety and she teaches us how to build our own personal toolkits. I'm really excited for you to hear today's episode. I know you're going to love her story.  Welcome to the voice in sport podcast, Grayson.

Grayson

Thank you for having me, I'm excited to talk to you.

(background music stops)

Stef

Your journey is very unconventional and that is what I love about it. What sports did you start playing when you were younger and how did you end up choosing soccer for college?

Grayson

Growing up, I had a twin sister and we were really rambunctious kids. So we played  basketball, soccer. She played baseball actually, cause she was still young enough to play baseball with the boys. We just were really active. We always biked a bunch, went to the park with each other. We had a really active childhood and we didn't really start competitive sports until middle school. And then we branched off and I started with soccer more seriously, and she went with basketball. And I just followed that soccer path all the way through high school. And then the next step was college. It was really cool to have the opportunity to play a sport in college. Cause I know that that's not something that everyone gets to do. So I wanted to give that a try and I went to Sweetbriar College in Virginia my first year for Soccer. And I realized 

(Grayson laughs)

it wasn't a great fit anymore. And I just had fallen out of love with soccer and I decided to transfer to Santa Clara for engineering and then wanted to be on a team still. And wasn't really into the idea of a sorority. 

(Grayson laughs)

So I wanted friends. I decided to ask if I could walk onto the track team there and it turns out you walk onto track and cross country. And then yeah, so I had found myself on the track and cross country team there. And It was a big difference. I had never run that much before. Three miles was kind of the most I'd ever run in one go. So it was a big transition, but I had a ton of fun and great teammates that taught me what running watches were. And that I need to choose. 

(Grayson laughs)

And really great coaches that were willing to kind of baby step me along in the process. Before I knew I was just really enjoying this thing and it had become something I was more serious about and not just, something I was doing purely for fun and friends. So I made the decision to use that and get some school paid for. I transferred that to the University of Utah and kind of told them I'm ready to pursue this a little more seriously.

So they took me to 5 All- Americans and 6 NCAA championships. And they got me set up to run professionally, which is something that I will ever be grateful for, from my coaches there. And I ran first year professionally on a team in Flagstaff. And now I'm kind of doing a solo pro thing with more radio friends as my teammates. And that's been really fun too. It's been  a journey, but a really cool one that I'm happy with.

Stef

It's really inspiring to see anyone going into college shifting directions and then becoming a 5x All-American. Very unexpected, but very possible throughout speaking to different female athletes with the Voice In Sport Podcast, I've heard this consistently, is you can, at any point  shift your direction and be successful and you don't have to follow  one specific path. That is what I love about your story. Did you feel  pressure  to do it a certain way that's always been done?

Grayson

Yeah. It was hard quitting soccer because it felt like I'm supposed to be doing this, or I should be doing this. That's what people are expecting me. And, my identity was wrapped up in a soccer player because that's who I was to everyone that knew me up until that point. So when I was confronted with the, well, if I stop and I'm not the soccer player anymore than what am I.

There were challenges along the way that were hard and people were mostly supportive, but they also expect things. And so it's not, they're not being supportive, but they think like, Oh, you should be going this way, but you're going this way now, what are you doing? So dealing with that has always been a challenge. But I'm learning that the more you do it, the easier it gets. So you can afford your own trail instead of going the way people say you should be going

Stef

Do you have a Mantra or something that helps you now to find that courage to make those pivots, especially when something seems unconventional.

Grayson

A little bit, It's not very cool, but my parents are always like, well, you've done it before you can do it again. It will work out. And so I always tell myself it'll work out because it has and even though the risks have been big sometimes and scary, and I didn't know for sure it was gonna work out, but I just told myself, you'll make it work, cause you have to, you don't have much of a choice. But trusting myself that I can make it work. Even if it's like, I need to get three extra jobs to pay rent.That's okay, too. It will work out and trust yourself has been something I tell myself in those moments before I take the plunge.

Stef

Great advice. When you take a look back then at your college experience at those three different universities and two different sports, quite a bit of a rollercoaster, what would you like to tell your freshman year self about the next four years you're about to go into in college?

Grayson

That it's going to be super cool. And one of the craziest  experiences of your life, and to trust yourself, and even if you feel like you doubt what you're doing,  just go for it. Worry less, cause I did make the decisions eventually it was a lot of toiling over them before I made them. In the future, I'm going to try and just make it and go with it and, and really have that faith that it will work out.

Stef

It's often that we get to the answers ourselves kind of quickly.  And then we go outside to look for validation. And then through that validation process, we get a lot of, no, you shouldn't do that or maybe not do it that way. That's never been done. And then you start to doubt yourself. So, I love that you bring up trust yourself and trust that gut that you have a direction you want to go in your life and whether it's through sport or through life, it's a great thing to keep front and center.

Grayson

Yeah, totally.

Stef

So Utah helped you transition into the pro circuit. I would love to hear about what that looked like for you in terms of having support from your college to do that,  because I'm not sure if that happens for all female athletes. Can you share what that looked like? And for the girls that are thinking about transitioning to pro, what should they know?

Grayson

A really important point that I had, I came from Santa Clara to Utah. And when I transferred one of the first meetings I had with my coach there, I told him, look, this is where I want to be in two years. I want to be able to run professionally.  And so that was kind of always at the back of everything that we did. And that didn't mean training more. In fact, I think it meant training more conservatively because he knew I don't want just two years out of this college.  I want a pro career.  And if I'm going to get there, you can't run me into the ground now. It's really important. It helped cause we always erred on the side of less is more, he was always really cautious.

He never really pushed  mileage or training and was always really, a great mentor for me too. Cause I'd have to do workouts alone sometimes. And he wouldn't baby me, but he liked, this is something you might encounter as a pro and it's good to work through it now and learn how to deal with doing a workout by yourself. And so just baby steps like that, and being really open with my coach, which I was really fortunate and I'm still, we talk every week. So it's really cool. And I know not everyone gets that, but  If you can look for a coach that you feel like you can be that open with and honest, and that you trust  that has your overall health in mind and not just winning for the team or winning championships. You want them to respect your own goals too outside of when you graduate.

Stef

How did you have the foresight to tell him that you wanted to have a longer career? And so you knew you needed to not push yourself too much in college.

Grayson

I'm really open with my parents. So that kind of established a relationship with adult leaders for me that I can be open and speak up for what I want. That really helped. And then he  was really opening and welcome to begin with and brought a lot of wise knowledge to the table. So I think that combo of the two really helped for both of us.

Stef

What if you don't have a coach that you feel like you can speak to and you feel like you're in a dangerous place, either with your body or your training, what do you think you can do? Or what can girls do if they're in that situation?

Grayson

Reach out to someone that you feel safe with. And tell your parents, if you feel safe with them or i’ll talk to anyone too, if you need to reach out to a pro, I'm sure a lot of us will talk to you. Or even finding someone at your school, you do feel safe talking to, I was really close with my athletic trainer and sometimes I tell her stuff, I wouldn't tell the coaches and she wasn't necessarily my coach, but she could stand up for me and be a voice for me if I needed her to be. So find those people that can be your voice if you're in a scary situation and trust them. And then if you really can't think about leaving that situation altogether, cause it's obviously not serving you. And transferring, I did it twice and I did three schools. So I can definitely say I hold no judgment against you and there shouldn't be a stigma against transferring. It's just a phase of life. Just another chapter.

Stef

Yeah,  that's a great comment. There feels like there's a lot of pressure, if you made one decision that you can't go back on it, but that's not how life is. So that shouldn't be how college is. 

(Stef and Grayson laugh)

Grayson

And you're not the same  when you're 18 is when you're  20 and you learn a lot in two years and you're like, this isn't me anymore. You don't feel like you have to stay there.

Stef

Yeah, I love that recommendation. You can make a change, especially if whatever place you're in isn't serving you. So you made another transition after you went pro from the Flagstaff team in Arizona back to Utah to pursue running in Utah in a slightly different way and get after trail and road. Can you talk about that decision and why you made that pivot?

Grayson

Yeah. Really similar to what we were talking about. I just felt like the situation I was in wasn't serving me and. I think people are really important to me and I learned that the hard way being away from all of my tribe or my people, my whole family and boyfriend were still in Salt Lake and not having that support, being far away, and doing something hard was really difficult for me. And I think I learned too, I like to look at training and running a little bit more openly and freely than that that team was built on and it's not bad. It's just not the way it works for me. And it does work great for some people and they have amazing runners on that team Alaphine just made the Olympics so, it obviously works. I wanted to integrate more of what made me happy. Cause I wanted to be happy doing what I was doing. Cause I think I knew too, that was way more sustainable than kind of hating it. It wasn't going to last very long doing that. So I wanted... I wanted to like it and do it for a long time.

Stef

Well, it proves that there are various ways to be successful in the sport of running and not just one way. So I think after you left you went to Utah, then you won the World Mountain Running Championship in 2019, which is an incredible accomplishment. Congratulations! 

How would you describe the different programs for the girls in college that are maybe thinking about joining one of the groups.

Grayson

Yeah. First of all, there aren't that many teams. So you don't have a lot to choose from, which is kind of another issue for a lot of people. And then a lot of the groups focus on one thing; it's kind of their specialty. So while NAZ Elite does also run on the track and is also very successful on the Track, I would say they are more road based or at least the training is kind of more of a marathon base type of training. Where, the team Niki Hilts is on Mission Athletics...they're more of a track group and they do a lot more speed stuff. Same with the Brooks Beast. They're definitely more speed oriented.

And then Handson Brooks, they're definitely like a road team. So looking at kind of what the teams do really influences how they train. Which is important. If you're more speed oriented, you're going to need more of a track group versus like the strength-y road groups. And then the trail stuff is hard. Cause you really, aren't that I know of..there's no like trail running women's groups. 

And the only men's group I know of is  the Coconino Cowboys, and they're not really an official group. They're more just kind of a funny Instagram account and a group of guys in Flagstaff. So it's hard with finding people to train with. But you could also look at areas too, like mountain towns tend to have a lot of trail runners that live there and train together, not necessarily in a group type fashion. So kind of look at what you are interested in and there's definitely somewhere for you. It just might take some digging, but don't be afraid to reach out to people, especially on Instagram. Cause I know a lot of people in different places that do a lot of different things. So you can probably find someone that you'll get along with.

Stef

It's a great perspective to have if you're in college and you're listening to you right now, describe

(Grayson laughs)

these different clubs. So thank you for doing that. It's great to see that there is diversity out there. Clearly just like all sports there needs to be more women's programs. So, (Grayson: “Yup!)

(Stef and Grayson laugh)

you know, we have that in common with soccer, basketball, etc.

Grayson

Yeah, everyone.

Stef

Something we aim to change at Voice In Sport. What is the name of the team that you're training with today?  So you mentioned that your training now is a bit of a solo, training program. Can you explain what that is today for you?

Grayson

Yeah. I'm kind of on a team and that my coach coaches a lot of people, so we call ourselves teammates, but no one lives where I live. My coach is based out of Boulder. It's David Roche and we're SWAMP, Some Work, All Play, and I think they have over a hundred athletes. So we're kind of a widespread team over the whole country. So I don't get to train with people on a daily basis, but I do have friends kind of all over the place that depending on where I'm at, there's always, someone I can call for a run if I need a buddy. And then I do a lot of my training  alone, which I personally, for the most part, it can get hard, but  I do like having the flexibility to go when I want, where I want and go slow if I need to or go fast if I feel good. So it's kind of the best of both worlds, to have options, lots of options.

Stef

Yeah, that's great. So you're with swap now and you've had this incredible journey through college, both at soccer and then in running, and then you went into the pro circuit on road first, and then now to all surfaces, let's talk about that whole journey, but through the lens of mental health, we know that women are twice as likely to have generalized anxiety, over men and a lot of girls in college are faced with anxiety and depression.  This is a subject that is rarely talked about, but it's so important to discuss because so many of us are dealing with anxiety.

So, can you talk about your journey with anxiety? When did it start? How have you coped with it? And maybe just take us all the way back to the beginning, because I think that's an important place to start. It can start pretty young, and it can come to life in different forms and some girls might be having a hard time recognizing that they might have a disorder. So let's go all the way back and start to when you first started dealing with anxiety.

Grayson

Yeah. Ask my mom and she'll tell you I was a very anxious kid. So I think it's been something in my life this whole time. And I didn't need to deal with it until it became like overwhelming, which was in high school and middle school probably. And that's when I started seeing a therapist and kind of working through things and then all through college and even now I've seen therapists off and on, sports psychologists to really help too, and medication-- different kinds of medication.

And then meditation and breathing exercises and other supplemental stuff too. Right now I'm really into Buddhism and just the idea of letting go. So that has all been really helpful and just part of that process. But the older you get, the more for me anxious I got, because the more responsibilities you have and the more pressure people start to put on you to be something or to kind of fulfill a title that they've decided that you are, whether that soccer player or a runner or a student or daughter, pro athlete. 

Through that, I've had to adapt as my life changes too, the way that I kind of cope with it. And  for me, the most helpful has been talking to a professional, whether that's a therapist or a sports psychologist, depending on where I feel like my anxiety is during that time. Cause sometimes it is more sports-related and then sometimes it's just past traumas or things in life now that are totally unrelated to running, that are making me anxious. It's a process and you're building this tool kit so that you have more tools when it comes up to deal with it. Cause it will always kind of look different when it rears its ugly head.

Stef

I love the idea of a toolkit. You mentioned several pieces of that toolkit. So asking for professional help with a sports psych or therapist, meditation and breathing. I know we discussed earlier in the [Instagram] Live also journaling and the power of writing things down.  When you take a look back and you think about  where you started to where you are now, is there a different approach you have to anxiety and mental health than maybe you had when you were younger? Have you flipped a switch and said, you know what, like this is part of my life and here's how I'm going to tackle it. Have you moved from like negative about it to something positive? 

Grayson

Yeah. Definitely, I mean, at least in the process, I don't think there's really an end to it.

(Grayson laughs)

But when I was younger, I used to see it as like, I need to fix this. It's something I'm going to cure myself or if I can just do this one thing, I'll get rid of it and I'll be good to go forever. And now I'm realizing when I get older, I don't think I'll ever totally fix it, but I can change my perspective in the way that I look at it and shift from negative to positive and really sit there with the emotions instead of trying to stop them from coming or to kind of deny them. And I think that has brought me more peace internally. Instead of being a battleground, I can just kinda sit with it and be more passive and let it go. But it's taken time to get there, I'm 25 and it's still a work in progress. 

Stef

Well, I can say I'm a little older than you, and it continues to be a journey, right? 

(Grayson laughs)

We're always working on improving ourselves and working towards that state where we have more peace in our world. So it's something that never goes away. I think that's part of the great journey that you've had, is moving from fixing it to acceptance and how do you grow?

Grayson

Yeah.

Stef

I would love to touch on sports psychs versus therapists and why you decided to go with both versus one, or did you ever try just one and then you added another.

Grayson

Yeah. I think through different periods I've had one or the other– just depending on what my life situation was  at that point. I've had both, I think once, but usually one of them was better suited to help me through what I was going then the other. And, so the therapist is generally better suited for like life things and past traumas and going through that, the sports psych is a little better when you're going through something that might be more sport related, whether that's like racing anxiety or just performance anxiety in general, or motivation stuff, and kind of moving through that. And they're definitely connected, but you can see there's like a  separation too. And having the different expertise has been really helpful.

Stef

That's awesome. I think it's great that you're doing both and to the girls out there that are wondering, where did they start? I think you mentioned something earlier. That's really important, which is to try one, reach out to one, interview them, you know, they're interviewing you, but you should be interviewing them to make sure it's the right fit. And you might not  find the right person, right away, but don't give up.

Grayson

Yeah. There's a lot of people out there. 

Stef

You also mentioned the power of meditation as one of the things in your toolkit. Can you tell us how you started with meditation? Where do you start, If you have no idea because you've never meditated?

Grayson

I think the first time I was introduced to it was through a therapist and that was really helpful. Cause they'll say you down and walk you through the steps, but you can also access, I have Headspace the app on my phone and then, I have another one too. And those are really helpful too. And essentially they do the same thing that the therapist does and they're guided meditation. So they walk you through the breathing and kind of what you should be trying to do during that time. I think that's great, the app, cause it comes in levels or sets of courses. So you can build on them and feel like you're adding a little something new each time. So yeah, if you can't talk to a therapist, the app is a great and cheap way to start to find out if you even   resonate with that or if it's something you're just not interested in. Cause I can imagine that's probably not for everyone too, but that's been really helpful for me.

Stef

I love it. And it's also so important, this idea that you mentioned of letting go. So how do you stay in that head space, to kind of approach your running to be more free and to keep things a little bit more light for you when you still have pressure and you still have these goals of wanting to be the best in the world and making Olympic teams? How do you stay in that space and still keep sort of this like lighter approach?

Grayson

It's hard to preface that way. Some days I'm not very good at it, but I'm really working on it. An example, like, so two days ago I think I was running and it didn't feel good. And I was just kind of starting this spiral, like, Ugh,  I'm so out of shape, this doesn't feel good. What does this mean? And I caught myself more. It's like, no, it's okay that this sucks. And you can acknowledge that this doesn't feel very good, but that's kind of where it needs to end. I don't get to judge. Those feelings. I don't get to judge the run or foresee the future based on one run. And so that's kind of helpful. You just try and be present and being present or now has been a really good cue word for me of just focusing on like, the second or the next second, and there's nothing wrong in this second and the next second. 

So I can just keep doing that. eventually I'll get to where I want to go. And then too, with training, today I went on a bike ride instead of running. And at first I was kind of like, oh, I should run instead cause that's kind of what was on the schedule or I want more miles this week. And then I realized. No, like, I just want more because I think that's what I should be doing or kind of judging myself in that way. And if I can just let go and enjoy this cool bike ride that I got invited to do, that's really cool. And I think in the end, I'm really happy I went, so just focusing on that and less judgment on myself and knowing the trust in myself is informed again, coming up and that I'll get to what I want to go if I can do things that make me happy and want to keep doing them.  

Stef

So judgment is a word that I think helps us transition to another area. That's really important to talk about, which is body image. And I think as runners, as female athletes, we can pretty easily go down a path of comparing our bodies to other people's bodies. Did you ever have challenges with your own body image during sport and if so, how did you shift your mindset to come out of it in a positive way?

Grayson

Yeah, what really sticks out to me was coming in as a soccer player to a running team. I didn't necessarily look like my teammates. I'm small, but not in the same way. I think you're a lot more muscular when you're playing soccer and there's a lot less emphasis on size. If anything, everyone told me I was too small playing soccer, so I was always trying to be bigger. And then I came to a sport where I was being praised for how small I was. And it was just kind of a weird, like, Oh my gosh, I have two perspectives now. And I think that really helped me in the end, kind of stay above the turbulence, but it was really interesting to see my teammates, kind of judging that a little bit on me, I think. And you know, after two years of running, I definitely looked different than when I was playing soccer.

 And then, and I was getting judged too, in a reverse way: Of oh, why do you look different now? It's like, well, I've been doing a different sport now for two years and that inevitably comes with changes. There's different muscle groups. I use more and less and that's just kind of what happens. I'm also two years older, so my muscles have matured a bit more. I'm not the 18 year old girl. I'm almost a woman now and important differences happen in that transition too. So yeah, I think just a lot of things go on, especially in those college years for girls and just try to remind yourself that it is a big transition period for our bodies in general, for all women during that time. And it is hard because the media portrays certain images as being the way you should book, should (Grayson: “hah”) air quotes, expectations, but just know like it's okay. And it's your journey and wherever you are, that's how you should look. You're perfect. Just the way you are.  

Stef

I think it's really difficult in running. Because it feels like society and the media portray sort of this one ideal body type for running. So can you talk a little bit about that? I'm a soccer player. And so I am sort of used to the soccer world and dealing with like really thick, big thighs and being self conscious of that. And then it's like you go to the running world and we have a lot of amazing runners in our community, but it doesn't feel like the different body types are celebrated. So as a pro runner, as somebody who's in that world today, can you tell the other girls out there, what is it really like?

(Grayson and Stef laughs)

Are there different body types? Can you share a little bit because unfortunately we don't see, I think the diversity in the media.

Grayson

From my experience, I can definitely say there are different body types in pro running. And while they may not all get the attention, I would encourage you to go out and Google pro runners or just try and find them that you don't often hear or see about. Cause I think the ones that tend to get a lot of attention just get repeated attention. And then there are a lot that don't get as much, but they should. They're just as good.

And there's a wide diversity of runners that do really well. Even for example, Steeplechase, so Allie Ostrander made the World Team and she's my size we’re like 5’3’, 5’4”, and very petite. And then you have Emma Coburn and she's tall and she's very strong and muscular looking and there's a big difference. And they both went to the World Championships. So you can look a lot of different ways and still be successful and you don't have to fit a mold. And I think that's really important to recognize, and don't just trust the media, go out for yourself and find people that look like you.

Stef

And if you're struggling to, to see that, or you look around and everybody sort of is one particular like body type, and you're getting the pressure from your coach or your trainer, or even yourself to shed pounds, you know, reduce your eating. What advice would you give to girls in that scenario?

Grayson

I'd say really look at the cost benefit analysis of what you're doing. And you will find hopefully that the risk of being under fueled, just to look a certain way, comes with a lot of not benefits later on. You could get osteopenia, you could really ruin your hormonal health as a woman. And that's super important, if you want to have kids, that's something you're going to really need to think about and look at your career. If you want to be a runner 10 years, you can't be not fueling correctly or fueling enough. So that's important too. And that always helps me to kind of go back and take a breath and just stop for a minute and think. Where will this get me? Where will this behavior get me in 10 years? Is that where I want to be? So really think longterm about health  that always helps reel me in and remember what is important.

Stef

And how do you personally approach nutrition and fueling your body? Can you tell us about like how you approach that on the daily?

Grayson

Yeah, I think, really intuitive has been my approach to things and listening to my body and not restricting. And at the same time, I want to fue, I want to give it respect and feed it nice things and organic fruits and vegetables. But at the same time I want chips. Sometimes I'm going to have potato chips if I feel like, and I always try an err on the side of eating too much over too little and just anything in an energy surplus is going to be way better than a deficit for me. And then also not focusing, which again is hard with the judgment piece, but not focusing on like aesthetic. And I've seen that too, my body changes even through the different events I'm training for whether that's the 10k or the steeple on the track or I'm doing a mountain race or I'm doing a road race, and I shouldn't control that. That's kinda just what comes with the training. So fuel for all of that and not try and always look the same way all the time. Cause sometimes I need different body parts to be working differently, to be successful in those races.

Stef

So important and I love how you err, on the side of fueling yourself a little bit too much versus the opposite. It's a very important part of becoming a great athlete. And if you find yourself in a space that you're starting to restrict your food, that is a great time to reach out to somebody for some help and not let it go too far.

Grayson

Yeah. I'm working again, therapist, and then also dieticians are also great— If you feel like you're starting to get stuck in that cycle, and sometimes you don't even realize you're doing it. It might not be totally intentional, but then it kind of adds up and before long you've been under fueling little by little, it leads to big deficits. And so just pay attention to that.

Stef

What are some of those warning signs, whether it was yourself that you can reflect on and look at those warning signs or your teammates.

Grayson

I think, fatigue is always a big one, if you start to notice you're just a lot more tired than you and you should be. You're not recovering after runs very well. And then I think too, you can kind of get into a place where like you convince yourself you're not actually fatigued when you are, or you're like, I'll just have another coffee, I'm just tired. So learning to differentiate, being tired from body fatigue is important. Cause I’ve seen a lot of girls, like I just need coffee but they actually just need food,

(Grayson laughs)

not more caffeine to stay awake. And I've done that too. Especially at school. I know it can be hard when you're running around to classes and your schedule is crazy and you're like, Oh, I just need a coffee to stay awake. But then if you just ate something, I'm like, Oh, actually I feel way more awake now, cause I ate then having coffee.

Stef

Wow. That's a great signal to be aware of. And especially when you're in college, when you have so much going on. I can see it to be an easy default to say, oh yeah, I'm tired, I just need coffee. I kind of feel like that as a mom to be honest. 

(Stef and Grayson laugh)

But, it's a great warning sign. So thank you for sharing that.

I would like to transition to sort of, this moment in time that we are all facing, which is just a lot of uncertainty. We don't know when our next race is. We don't really know when we're going to be competing again. And a lot of college sports have been canceled. So, sence Voice in Sport and our podcast is focused on untold stories, and really talking about the things we don't normally talk about as female athletes— can you, you tell us a little bit about how you're dealing with this time and what advice you'd have, and if you have some untold stories in there, we'd love to hear them.

Grayson

Yeah. This time has been weird for everyone. I can say that I generally think I've been fortunate to not have anything catastrophic happen, and I really feel for the people that it has affected more. But, at the same time, it's still hard to deal with. And I think there've been a lot of times the last couple months where without all the pressure, always going all the time. I've had time to kind of reflect on what I'm doing and I've had several existential crises on like, is this the right thing for me? Do I want to keep doing, am I making a difference in how I want to in the world and with my life and so, yeah, I've like contemplated some difficult things. Like, do I want to keep running all the time? Or what does this mean? And is this super important to me? Is there something more important to me? 

Even being brave enough, I think to contemplate that, Has it been hard, but a cool eye opening experience too, of like, I can think about those things without feeling like my world is crashing down and it's okay to kind of just again, with the judgment and the meditation, just sit and note that I'm feeling that way without attaching too much emotion to it. I don't blame people, I've been really unmotivated too. I don't know when my next race will be either. And it's hard to just keep training for what seems like not something very important when I could go be a nurse and like really help people instead right now. So yeah kind of focusing on my own existence has been hard, but worth doing. And you're not alone. If that has happened to you, I'm definitely low on the motivation scale too right now.

Stef

I think important moments like this helps us all reflect on the impact we want to have in the world. And as athletes, we have platforms. So what are we going to do with those platforms? And I think it's a great thing for everybody to be thinking about. And it's certainly why I left my last job to create this company because you think about what the world really needs (Grayson: “Yeah”) and as female athletes, as anybody going through a lot of uncertainty or just ups and downs, we needed to provide more support. So,(Grayson: “Yeah”) we appreciate you Grayson for being so open (Grayson: “Thanks” + giggle a little) because even sharing these stories, it's going to help a lot of girls.

Grayson

I hope so, thank you.

Stef

I ask all female athletes. What superpower do you gain from sport and how are you going to use it to drive something positive outside of sport?

Grayson

My superpower would be the power to be myself.  With that, I hope it inspires other people to be themselves, to follow a path that even if they have to bushwhack their own path and trailblaze kind of like I did, I want you to do that. And it's fun and cool. And you can have the courage to do that.

Stef

For sure your super power has been

(Grayson laughs)

to forge a new path and it is very inspiring to see that you've done that. I think it's gonna inspire a lot of different girls to do something maybe a little bit differently.  You can still be a runner and do something a little differently than maybe other people have done before you.

Grayson

Definitely.

Stef

What is one final piece of advice that you would like to tell all the girls in sport out there?

(background music starts)

Grayson

Have the courage to be brave and believe in yourself, even if it's kind of weird. And that adventure is out there and don't feel like you have to be stuck in the same path. If it's not really making you happy and excited to live.

Stef

Such great advice. Thank you so much, Grayson. We really appreciate you and thank you for coming on our podcast. 

Grayson

Yeah, thank you so much for having me. 

Stef

Thank you so much Grayson for opening up and not being afraid to share your personal stories and struggles. Your unconventional journey is super inspiring and proves that there's not one clear cut path to take when pursuing your dreams, your diligence and dedication to your sport, your mental health and helping others is something that we can all take note of.  You can follow Grayson on Instagram and Twitter at RACIN underscore Grayson (Racin_Grayson) and sign up for a VIS Live session with Grayson on the Voice in Sport website. Please subscribe to the Voice in Sport Podcast and give us a rating. You can follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tik Tok @voiceinsport

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Host: Stef Strack

Producer: VIS Creators™ Libby Davidson & Anya Miller

Grayson Murphy, Professional Runner, opens up about topics such as transferring schools, changing sports, switching pro groups, physical changes, and navigating performance anxiety, all in the pursuit of becoming the best version of herself.