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Episode #60

Set Your Mind To Success

with Gia Trevisan

14 Dec, 2021 · Track and Field

Gia Trevisan, VIS League™ Mentor & professional 400 meter runner for Team Italy, explains the importance of having a growth mindset in training and in competition.

Transcript

Stef: 

Today’s guest is Gia Trevisan, a professional 400 meter runner for Team Italy and a 2021 Olympic hopeful. In this episode, Gia talks to us about one of her favorite books, Mindset by Carol Dweck. She shares what having a growth mindset means to her, and how it makes her a better runner and competitor. 

I love Gia’s story because she did not start taking Track and Field seriously until her senior year of high school. She decided to attend the University of Arizona but didn’t come in on full scholarship for Track and Field. Throughout her college years, Gia worked her way up to becoming a professional runner and eventually medaling at the IAAF World Relays and European Team Championships in 2019.

Gia reminds us that having a growth mindset is such an important part of your training. It helps us to be open to change and to overcome obstacles, both of which are such big parts of sports. She shares that some of her biggest breakthroughs in competition came when she embraced her nerves and learned to see challenges as opportunities for growth. 

I’m so excited for this conversation, because regardless of which sport you play, learning to have a growth mindset will help make you a better competitor. Welcome to the Voice in Sport podcast Gia. 

Welcome to the Voice in Sport podcast, Gia, we're so excited to have you here with us today.

Gia: 

Hi, Stef. Thanks for having me.

Stef: 

It's exciting to have you on because you are actually representing team Italy in the up and coming Olympics. And Italy is very near and dear to my heart. That's where I started my career at Nike and Nike Italy. I love that country for many reasons, but it's pretty cool to talk to an athlete who trains in the US and who's going to be technically representing Italy in the next Olympics.

Gia: 

Yeah, I'm super excited. And of course Italy's near and dear to my heart. 

Stef: 

So tell me a little bit about where you grew up and how you first got involved with the sport of running? 

Gia: 

I grew up in Irvine, California, and I first started as a soccer player and on the field, it was obvious that I was already fast and that was my greatest strength playing soccer. I didn't have a lot of skill. So my parents were like, maybe you should do track, to get fitter for the sport and so forth.

So that's how I started doing track and. In high school, I was always soccer, I play soccer, I don't do track. And then my senior year of high school is when I really started to fall in love with track.

Stef: 

You've made team Italy and you're headed to the Olympics and you really only started running around the age of 15 years old and focusing on that sport. So who were some of your role models, growing up and in the sport. And how did you ultimately decide on track?

Gia: 

My biggest role model was definitely Allyson Felix, and she still is. I just really admire her as a runner and growing up, that's who I really watched running and it's amazing to think she's still running. And I really started to commit to track in college, but I also feel like track is a sport that you don't have to do from age six.

You can start later and whatever your strength is, distance or speed. It's always there.

Stef: 

I love that. And it's interesting that you can also peak much later in life in running and in track. So you look at Allyson Felix, as an example she obviously peaked really young too, but she continues to just peak along the way with all of her medals. And it's incredible to see how your body can change and how you can continue to improve your performance.

So when you think about your transition as an athlete in track and field, what have you seen in terms of your performance from when you started and all the way to now.

Gia: 

I definitely think women specifically can peak later. You see that in a lot of Italian female track athletes. They usually peak around 28, 29 and 30. And development for me really came from buying into my coaches program. I think a big part of track and field is being coachable. And we don't know everything about the sport.

Our coach has probably been coaching for 30 years, and really buying into the program and really believing in the program. And coming with a blank canvas, not thinking this is what we did last year. Maybe we should do that this year .

Stef: 

Absolutely. As you get older in the sport too, you learn to really maximize all components of your sport, so physical and mental. So we're going to talk about that today, because I know you're a big believer in the growth mindset, and we're going to talk about one of your favorite books today, but it's a big part of recognizing that there's two sides to becoming a great athlete.

And it's not all about that physical strength. It's also about the mental side of what you do. So let's go back in time, first start about your transition into university of Arizona going from high school just getting into the sport of track and field and then immediately going on to a division one school.

 Tell us about that transition from high school to college, what were some of those challenges that you faced and what advice would you have for girls that are about to go to that transition?

Gia: 

So the biggest challenge for me was the freshman 15. It came on so quick and I had a new lifting regimen. I was drinking muscle milk every day in the weight room. And I had never lifted before. I was really developing this new muscle mass that I wasn't used to. And I had a lot of struggle with my body image.

If I'm carrying this weight, how am I going to get around the track fast and so forth and stress. And all of that was really adding up for me and that transition took quite a while. I want to say it took about two years for me to adjust to college and really being on my own, cooking my own meals and so forth, learning how to eat in the dining hall, all of that.

And looking back, it was a period of growth that I definitely wouldn't want to have missed. And really learning about myself and how my body was being treated, during that transition period.

Stef: 

It also ties back a little bit to what we talked about at the beginning, which is being able to develop later in life in your running journey, because you had great results, your freshman year, 55 seconds for your 400 meter, but then senior year, you were at 53 seconds for your 400 meter.

And now at pro you're beyond that at 52 seconds and even faster, but it's that idea of you're always in process and you have a growth mindset to whatever goal you're trying to achieve. When did that idea of growth mindset really set in for you?

Gia: 

I definitely think it was in college. I started to develop a really positive relationship with my coach. And at the beginning I wasn't really all in on the process and I really had a fixed mindset. My freshman year, I really wanted results right away. And in high school I was splitting 54 on the four by four relay.

So I was like, I should be running 54. I should be running faster. A lot of those should, and could statements are not positive statements to have, and as I started to develop my relationship with my coach I really bought into the program. She really taught me, you can grow as an athlete. If you commit to these workouts, you commit to the fall training and commit to the full process of cause track and fields really fixated.

So each cycle is really different. We'll have a strength cycle where we don't feel really fast, but we feel really strong and then we add speed to it. And then you start to feel really fast and feel really strong. The training's really intense that you can't really maintain, 40 weeks of speed work all at once.

 It has to be a period designed for training. And so I think I developed it in college and then going pro I might've lost sight of it just a little bit where I was feeling like I need to be running with these girls and I had to reread the book and reframe my thoughts around that.

Stef:

Ideal mindset of an athlete is really to be when you're competing and training to always be thinking of Okay, I have resiliency and I can really change my approach and affect my performance and constantly look at that. But sometimes that can be detrimental, never feeling like you're in a good spot or never feeling satisfied or never celebrating the moment.

So do you ever struggle with that? Idea that you're always striving for something else and new, but yet, how do you enjoy the moment that you're in the accomplishments that you're currently crushing?

Gia: 

Yeah. I definitely think it's a process of feeling content with where you're at, but knowing you want to be somewhere else. So it's not always being dissatisfied with, I'm not there yet, and I should be there. It's more, I can be happy with where I'm at right now and still want more,

Stef: 

Yeah, when you reflect back on your time as a college female athlete, what do you wish you would have known going into that experience?

Gia: 

Definitely be yourself. I think a lot of the time, especially in high school, girls really gel together, for example, they might be like, Hey, you guys, let's not try really hard on this rep or sometimes working hard makes you stand out. And sometimes people don't like to stand out, but when I was in high school, I was just so competitive.

They didn't care. I was like, I'm winning every rep, and honestly I did get teased for it a little bit. People are like, why are you always going so hard, blah, blah, blah. And I was just competitive and I really wanted the most, and I think it's really important to really be true to yourself.

No matter what other athletes are saying.

Stef: 

Absolutely. And what's going to work for you might not always work for somebody else, so finding that motive vacation too is so important, especially right now. It's hard, we're all missing some of our sport. We're not on a regular routine. You know, COVID has thrown all of us a bit of a challenge.

So how have you dealt with the uncertainty of the Olympics, the uncertainty of your training, what advice would you have to girls right now that might be feeling not motivated.

Gia: 

So last year 2020, there was one day we went to three different tracks in March and we got kicked off of all three in a matter of minutes when we got to the track. And I think that was really frustrating. And this was at a time when the Olympics were still happening in 2020. And then when it got canceled, I was like, what's the point of training?

This is really tough training and we don't even know what's happening in the summer. And then I had talks with my coach and my husband, and it made me realize that , in track and field, we usually don't have a lot of time to work on technique, or we don't have a lot of time to work on the small details.

 I shifted my perspective to, Hey, this is a good time to work on technique. This is a really good time to work on my tiny arms swing that needs to be bigger or really small details for me. And I'm a short 400 meter runner. So it was a really good time for me to work on Straddling without overstriding.

And so that's really what we worked on was learning how to run fast and relax at the same time.

Stef: 

How do you do that? How do you run fast and relaxed at the same time?

Gia: 

It's harder when you're more fatigued. Honestly, it sounds really cliche, but it's a lot of breathing techniques. And in the 400, it's a sprint for sure, but it's gotta be a controlled sprint. That first 200 meters, and it also depends on what type of 400 meter runner you are.

So there's some 400 runners out there who are just sprint runners and they just go all out and then whatever they have that last 15 meters, they hang on, there's some 400 meter runners that are really strong and they can pace that first 200 and then come back that last 200, but learning how to be fast and relaxed is really establishing that inner confidence in your ability to move.

But not chilling too much, if that makes sense.

Stef: 

Yeah, absolutely. And I love talking about confidence. It's so important for young girls in sport. We know it's one of the reasons why girls drop out of sport. And it's so important to talk about how as athletes we gain confidence. Looking back at your own journey, how have you regained confidence when you've had a dip in your performance or in a down moment?

And what advice would you have for girls that maybe they're in that moment right now, where they're not feeling confident with their performance?

Gia: 

I am a big believer and like daily affirmations, even if you don't really believe that affirmation and that moment. And I was talking to a training partner the other day and she was like, what does taking risks mean to you? And I said taking risks can be, Hey, I'm going to believe in myself today.

That could be a risk. And in the 400, it's a scary race because you don't really know how your body's going to react all the time. Sometimes if I'm like, Hey, I'm going to really take a risk in that first 200 and run competently. That could be a risk too. Taking a risk isn't really.

Just going out there and going all out and seeing what's going to happen. Risk-taking can be hey, I’m going to believe in myself, even if I really don't right now. And I think it's really just a matter of changing our thoughts and my performance coach recently said, have you ever in a workout, thought about, Hey, I'm going to go over and touch that tree.

And when I touch that tree, that's when I'm going to stop thinking, I can't finish this workout. And I was like, I've never really tried doing that. I'm going to try doing that.

Stef: 

I think this is such a critical component to being an amazing athlete is thinking about how do you train your mind? Often I think in high school and college girls shy away from going into sports psychologists or sports performance coaches to seek help.

And part of what we're trying to do at voice in sport is de-stigmatize that, and it's a huge part of being successful and we should all be talking about it more. So, can you tell us your journey to getting to your performance coach? Did you always have him or her, or did you have moments where it was all about the physical and at what point, did you say to yourself, okay, maybe I should explore the other side of my performance.

Gia: 

Yeah. So in college, we. He had a sports psychologist on hand, and I had a teammate who didn't regularly have a great experience with it. And so I was like, I'm just not going to go. And my college coach was actually a really good resource for the mental performance side. And she would tell us books to read and so forth.

And I educated myself in that way. And then after school, I started seeing a sports performance coach and, at first it's hard to be vulnerable and open up. And then when you start exploring it and really trying to challenge your mind it was really helpful for me, especially when she would give me different techniques to use.

I go over and touch the tree and stop thinking that thought, things like that. Or even when I was having really tough workouts, I told her sometimes I would sit down and not get up for the next rep. And she was like, what can you do that will prepare you for the next rep? And I was like, I could walk around stuff like that.

 It's all so simple, but it makes a huge difference in between reps and practice.

Stef: 

You noticed a difference in your performance since working with a sport performance coach?

Gia: 

I've definitely noticed a difference in my attitude towards training and performance. And also my awareness when I'm racing. Because sometimes when you race, you zone out and 400 goes by so fast that you just can't think about anything, but she's taught me to prepare my mind beforehand. And so when I'm thinking alive, visualize this in the race, and I know how to respond cause sometimes if someone comes up on you really fast, you might freak out.

But that's not when we want to freak out, just stay relaxed. This is your race. Every runner has a different race.

Stef: 

Yeah, so important. I want to talk about one of your favorite books called mindset. And I want you to talk about when you first read that book and why recently you read it again and what that has done for you, to move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.

Gia: 

So track and field a lot of people would say it's very talent-based. And you might think, okay, I just don't have the speed. I just don't have that natural gift of raw speed and in the last six months, I started to feel that way. And that's why I re-read the book and a growth mindset is I have these traits or I don't have these traits that can be developed.

And it's not, okay, I'm going to run away from this because it's too difficult. When I was in high school, I was failing math and my parents were like, this is not going to be a thing. And I got a tutor twice a week for two hours. And from then on, I was getting high nineties in my math classes.

I had this tutor for three years. So through that you can really see, okay, this wasn't, I was bad at math. It's probably just that I'm not using the right techniques. I'm not using the right system. Maybe my effort wasn't really there because Hey, this math problem is too hard, I don't want to try to solve it.

And when I had the tutor it was more okay, how can we solve this for you? And I think in high school that really showed me a growth mindset as well.

Stef: 

Yeah, it's so important because changing that mindset from fixed to growth teaches you and your brain to push out of the comfort zone and learn something new and face those challenges in a way that provides you with a learning opportunity. I think a big part of that mindset is looking at things as a process and praising the process as much as the result.

But how do you actually bring that into your day to day? How do you praise the process and not just always champion the results?

Gia: 

Yeah, track and field is very outcome-based where if you don't run that time, was this worth it in a way? And when I think about it, I think, okay, this is the time I'm striving for. If I didn't reach that, how would I feel? And I look at it like track and field and sports really has taught me to hang in there and it's really taught me other things.

So let's say we could fast forward. I don't run the time that I want to run. What can I take away from this? What I would take away is I learned how to be resilient. And I learned how to reframe my thoughts from fixed to growth. And I met a lot of great people who taught me a lot about myself. And I met a lot of great people who taught me about life.

 And so I think it's a constant reminder that the destination really is the journey, and it's not more so, okay. I'm just always looking for outcomes.

Stef: 

Well, it's clearly helped because from 2016, when you ran the Italian championships, you came in ninth, which is an amazing result in and of itself. But as you've continued to grow in 2019, you ran the four by 400 relay and won two bronze medals on the international and European stages.

So it sounds like a huge influence on your results at the end of the day. And I wanna talk to you a little bit about that experience of training across international lines in different cultures and how you've done that. And what you've learned from being part of team Italy as well as the NCAA college experience, how has that developed you as a person and as an athlete?

Gia: 

Yeah, I think as a person it's really taught me, there's a lot of different ways to do things, Europeans have a different way of training in some aspects and Americans have a different way of training. And most of my life I've done American training and it's all just different and there's different ways to run fast.

And so it's not like I'm going in there, or they're looking at my training like this doesn't work. Why are you doing this? And that's really what it's taught me and that not everything has to be done a certain way. And I've also really learned from Italian coaches and what they do. And I love training. I love running, so I love learning about workouts and how you can get faster.

Zosia: 

Thank you for listening to the Voice In Sport podcast. My name is Zosia BUlhak, a cross country runner at the University of Houston and producer of this week’s episode.

 If you enjoy hearing from Gia Trevisan and would like to get the chance to talk to athletes like her, go to voiceinsport.com/join to sign up for a free membership and gain access to exclusive episodes, mentorship sessions, and other weekly content. 

Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok @voiceinsport. Now let’s get back to the episode. 

Stef: 

Okay. What if you're struggling with the training part and love competing, but don't love training. What would you say to those girls?

Gia: 

I would say. Okay. If you love competing and you love winning, then I would say, you got to convince yourself, this is what I have to do to win this. And if you think that the whole practice, cause there some days where this workout is crazy. I don't know what my coach is thinking.

I literally think about winning nationals. I'm like, okay, I really want to win. So I'm really going to do this. And it's easier said than done, of course.

Stef: 

Okay. That's a lesson that we're constantly talking about on this podcast. Everything is easier said than done, but Hey, if you say it, it's a start and, and a part of training your mind is believing in yourself. Like you said earlier, the positive affirmations, it's all part of it.

And another part of it is how you fuel your body. I want to talk a little bit about that because you have put on some of your own training programs around nutrition and you've developed some nutritional plans as part of what you do off the track. So can you tell us when you start taking your nutrition seriously as an athlete?

Gia: 

It's definitely important. In college, I experienced a lot of hormonal issues around that. And that's why I had the freshman 15 and I started to take it seriously when I was a junior in college when I was able to really cook at home and really understand it better, and I am a little more specific now I'll try to really eat anti-inflammatory foods post-training. I'll down some turmeric, things like that. And my relationship with food it's gone from negative to positive just because I'm focusing more on performance rather than appearance or what I look like. I'm like, Hey, I'm going to try to look like whatever I have to look like to run fast.

Stef: 

It's so hard to not get caught up in comparing yourself to others. So what would you average girls think about. If there may be that trap of comparing themselves constantly to other athletes around themselves?

Gia: 

Yeah. I've definitely been there, I look at other 400 runners and I'm like, man, they're they look like this. So I need to look like that to run fast. But it's definitely a balance of finding what is healthy for me. And what does that look like?

And as women, all of our bodies are different. We're all different and that's the biggest thing is knowing, I don't have the same genetic gene pool as this 400 meter runner. But what I can do is fuel myself properly for what I have to do.

Stef: 

Okay. So you're on the global stage. You're seeing all of the runners in the 400 meter from around the world. So tell the girls today does everybody look like they have the same body type?

Gia: 

No, everybody does not look like they have the same body type.

Stef: 

Because I think often you have this image of what a runner looks like. And this is the trap that you get into. And then you look at yourself and you say, wait a second. I don't look like that. That can be a really bad place to be in.

 And it's so important for girls to hear you're on that global stage and, and you're talking about how everybody has such a different body type. And so it's about fueling your body in the right way. It's about fueling your mind and having the right mindset. I think that just talking a little bit about those struggles that you had before you got to where you are today with your mindset would be really helpful for the younger girls.

Gia: 

Yeah, I'll talk a little bit about how I felt in college. I didn't have a lot of confidence. I struggled with a lot of insecurities when we would go to pool parties. I was like, I'm not going to wear a bathing suit. I don't have six pack abs like my teammates and I really worked at it. Confidence and track and competence in your body and in yourself doesn't happen overnight.

And I definitely think it's something that needs to be talked about more, because a lot of people on the outside might seem wow, they're so confident they have a great body and they're fast, but what's behind closed doors is the years of struggle. So for example, 2016, I was ninth.

First one out of the final. And then 2017, I false-started in the final at nationals. I don't know how you false-start in the 400, but I did it. And then 2018, I was runner up and then 2019 I won. And so that's four years it wasn't like I was Italian champion right away, you know? Or I knew what to eat right away.

Or I knew how my body responds to this food right away. a lot of it is just awareness and growing that and really understanding, Hey, this is a process for me. And maybe right now, I'm not super confident, but it can only go up from here and I'm going to keep growing that.

Stef: 

How did you build a support system to keep you in the right mindset or have you found yourself in a place where certain times in your life you looked around and felt like you were alone, and if you were in that spot today or a girl is in that spot today, how did they build a support system around them they feel confident and successful in their journey?

Gia: 

Yeah, most definitely. I would say when I was going overseas for meat in the beginning, it was very lonely. I would be in Italy for maybe two to three months and I'm away from my parents, my coach, my teammates, my husband, And I think the biggest thing is really learning how to use your resources.

And I'm not a very assertive person. So for me to talk to my coach or call my coach and be like, Hey, I'm struggling with this. It takes a lot. But one thing to remember is that your coach is on your team. Your coach wants to see you succeed and the people around you want to see you succeed and they're going to do whatever it takes to see that.

And so it's just a phone call or just a text that you need. It's taking the step to do that. And a lot of these things are really outside of comfort for sure. But really just type that text and send it. Don't even think about it. If you need to talk to your coach, type it and send it.

Stef: 

Yeah, so important to reach out for help, right? That's why we created this community because we want to make it easy and create a safe space for anybody to reach out to girls. And that's why we love having you as part of our VIS league. You're mentoring girls on our platform too, and it's so important to be accessible to people.

But then also take ownership and raise your hand and be like, I need help. And it's okay to do that. I hope the one thing that COVID has done for all of us is made it a little bit more okay to talk about when we're not okay.

I think it's hopefully changed when people ask you, Hey, how are you doing? And the go-to is, Oh, I'm fine. Hopefully we can change that so you don't always have to say you're fine. It's okay.

Yeah, You've found yourself coming out of COVID. As a different athlete somehow.

Gia: 

Yeah, I definitely think that during the training and COVID it's tough to train with no competitions coming up and I had to put myself in a little bubble and a lot of my training partners also experienced this in the fall. We felt like. Man. It's really hard to be out here And we talked about it. And then when we started to compete in January, our coach was putting a really big emphasis on competing. Because he said, we need to break up training somehow. We can't just be out here doing these really tough workouts and having no competition. I think COVID really made me believe in myself and say I'm really grateful for these opportunities. And every opportunity I have to race is a new opportunity to show what we've been doing. And in the last two years, we might've taken racing a little bit for granted. And now it's like, Oh my gosh, it was a race this weekend. I'm definitely going.

Stef: 

Yeah, it's definitely made you appreciate those moments where you do get to be with other amazing talented athletes and feel that rush of a competition which brings me back to your favorite book and this idea of growth mindset again, and I want to read a list of benefits that Forbes came out with talking about growth mindset, and then I'd love to hear which ones are the most applicable to sport and to you and your personal experiences.

So benefits of a growth mindset. Number one: view challenges as opportunities. Number two, try different learning tactics. Number three, replace the word, failing with the word learning number four, value the process over the end result. Number five, emphasize growth over speed, number six, utilize criticism as a positive to cultivate grit and own your attitude.

Gia: 

Okay, emphasize growth over speed.

I'm going to get really technical here. One thing about speed is when you rush speed, it's really easy to get hurt. Because if your body is not strong enough to endure that speed, it's going to go, Whoa, my gosh, what's going on? And something could happen. Some people, they can get really fast in one year and they're fine.

It really just depends on the person, but I was talking with my old coach one year and I told him, this is what I want to run in the 200. And he said, I definitely think we can get there. It's just, I don't think it's safe to do it in one year. And at the moment, I didn't really know what he meant by that.

I was like, what do you mean safe? I was like, let's just do it. But I definitely think that if you're rushing things with maybe any sport, it leaves something on the board that you missed. And I think that's really important to learn as well.

Stef: 

Absolutely.

Gia: 

Okay. Owning your attitude. I think you can separate who you are on the field with who you are off. So I'm not a confrontational person. I like to keep things chill, but when it comes to racing, I'm going for this. And even if you're competing against your friend, that's your friend, but on the track you guys are competing.

And if you have to create a persona on the field, then go ahead and do that and be like, this is who I am on the field. And I'm a completely different person and you can own that. And then off the field. Your normal self. And I think with performance I've heard of musicians doing this when they talk about getting on the stage, there's somebody different and it really helps them come alive.

And I think I'll find that and go ahead and name that person. And then when you're on the track, I usually tell myself I am strong on the track. And then I'll say, I am blank on the track, which is like my persona on the track.

Stef: 

Okay. So who are you on the track? Are you Gia on the track or are you Gia off the track or do you not share your names?

Gia: 

I have two names. So my teammates, they call me Scrappy G. That's what they call me. And then another one would be Gina. So you just add an n into Gia.

Stef: 

Okay, which one is that I'm on the track and I'm about to crush you?

Gia: 

It's probably scrappy G.

Stef: 

I love that it also talks about a very deep and important topic about finding your identity outside of sport, which is so important too, for athletes, not just during competition to keep your balance, but also for post pro life.

Have you explored that for yourself and have you found it difficult at times? And what advice do you have for girls about finding their identities beyond the track?

Gia: 

Yeah, I've explored it for sure. A good way to explore it now, when you're in your sport is this resolve is not defining me really. We all want to be at the top of our game, but it's more than that. And track for me is a lot of my why comes from my dad and whenever I'm really struggling in a workout, I just think about how my dad really didn't have an opportunity to do sports as a kid.

And he really wanted to. And he tells me every day, I wish I could have played baseball. And my parents didn't let me, and so that's my life, I, and whenever I'm having a really hard time overseas or I'm feeling really unconfident, I just honestly think about him and think about how I'm in this position really because of him. And I want to fulfill that.

Stef: 

You have a section on your website about finding your why, but what if you can't find your why, or you're struggling to find your why? What are some tips you can give to girls to think about starting to explore their why?

Gia: 

Yeah. people are always, like, you got to find your, why, what is your why? And I'm like, how do you do that?

I was always like, I don't know how to find that. I think it starts with, where am I willing to struggle? Where am I willing to go through difficult times and believe that this is what I'm supposed to be doing? And I think today it's really tough because a lot of people probably are in jobs because they have to be, and they might be passionate about something and they feel like they don't have the opportunity to fulfill that.

And so I think it starts with exploring your interests and where you're willing to struggle and what innate strengths do I have automatically that can give back to people. So for me, you know, I believe that an innate strength that I have is running and being an average runner who created a national team for my nation.

And because I wasn't a top recruit, I wasn't getting crazy scholarship offers. I just wasn't in that position. But even if you're not there, you can still become a great athlete. You can still become top at your university and it all starts with a growth mindset. But back to the why, I think it starts with exploring, where am I willing to struggle?

And, it can be simple. I loved this sport right at first, that's where I was. I love track and field. But as it gets harder, you're going to have to dig deeper and really find it.

Stef: 

What about this concept of replacing the word, failing with the word learning? Is that something that you actively practice yourself?

Gia: 

Yeah in practice, if I feel like I failed that rep or that workout. I did not complete it. I look at it like, the first question I asked myself is, did I give 100% effort? And did I try as hard as I could? If the answer is no, then I can't blame anybody for that result.

You know, I can't point my finger at my coach. I can't point a finger at my teammate. That's my responsibility if I didn't give 100% .Or there's been races where I'm like, man, I should have won that. Or I false started. And that took away a lot of opportunities for me. But the reason why I false started was because I was so nervous and I had no idea how to control my nerves.

And I used to just get so overwhelmed before races, I wanted to throw up and I really had to learn how to control that. And nerves are a good thing. They mean you care and they mean you want to do well, when I get nervous now I'm like, yeah, I'm going to use this.

 That first 15 meters. And so I think it's more let's look at it. Can I learn something from the start of false-starting? Yeah, I can. Did I fail? Not necessarily. I think it's more just what can I take from this going forward, which was learning how to control performance, anxiety for me.

Stef: 

So, how do you control performance anxiety? Cause I think that's something that probably a lot of us face, heading into a game or a match. What are some tips that you've learned from your performance coach on that?

Gia: 

The way I think about it now I do a checklist. So first one like Okay, I'm going to go into this race with 100% effort, no matter what happens. So many things can happen in a race. This person is cited to go out really fast. They're so far ahead of me, I'm done out of the race.

Right? You could think that, right? Yeah. But say like that happens or I'm going through that and visualizing my race. I have to think about effort and my college coach used to say, when you die, it's a choice. And I was like, I don't know if it's always a choice. Cause sometimes you are just dead.

But I do believe when in a workout and in the race you have something, you have something wet. So I go through that and then I go through, have I been running while at practice? Yes, I have. So I'm prepared. Did I do what was necessary for this race? Yes, I did. And then I just keep going through little checklists like that, and it calms it down.

And then , I really focus on breathing and doing some techniques like in, for six and out for four and really try to keep my heart rate as low as possible. And in the race, I also do try to breathe a certain way up until a certain point and really try to hone in on that and in practice, because the way you practice and everything it's going to come out in a race, you don't have time to think about things in a race, and that's why we have to do it at practice.

Stef: 

It's so important, the breathing component of competing, but also getting into that right space. I'm so glad that you brought that up, but just this whole idea of creating a love of learning and resiliency is so important to having strong performance, but also longevity in your sport.

So I love that Carol, in the book mindset, talks about this love of learning and how important that is. I'm curious to know what you think about something else she says regarding the growth mindset, which is that people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work.

And that brains and talent are just the starting point. So for you Gia or Scrappy G depending on who I'm going to talk to, how much do you believe your success has been built on what you were born with, brains and talent and what has been built from dedication and hard work.

If you had to put a percentage to it, how, what would you say?

Gia: 

I would say 70% of what I've done on track so far is hard work. Maybe 80%, to be honest, because you have that talent, but it has to be cultivated. And I made hard work a habit. If I show up to practice and don't work hard, that's the day I'm done with the sport, because then obviously I'm not connected or something's not going well.

And my high school and now my club coach from soccer, he used to get on us all the time and I played for a really competitive club and it was really intense. And he used to be like that feeling where you feel dead and you made that run and you made the next run and you got hit.

And this happened is the feeling you want. And that really stuck with me. It was like, I want to feel empty. I want to feel like there's nothing left and it almost sounds crazy, but I think that's what you have to do in a lot of ways, especially since on the track everything's burning, your hamstrings burn, your glutes are burning and you gotta find a way to control that.

In between reps, if it's a lactic session, I have to recover my breath in between this rep because my body might not recover.

Stef: 

I love your answer and I'm always so curious as to how female pro athletes think about that and I think it's so encouraging because it is a lot, the work you put into it.

And as you said yourself, you went to university Arizona, you weren't a top recruit and look where you are now. You're a pro athlete on team Italy about to head to the Olympics. So it's very, very inspiring. And to wrap this up, I would love to know what advice you have to the girls out there who might not feel like they're the top of the team.

And so therefore they might not see themselves in the future of their sport. What would you like to tell those girls out there today?

Gia: 

It's easier said than done, but believing in yourself is key. And I think that even if you're like, man, but I just don't believe in myself. I think it's something that's like, okay. I'm just going to keep telling myself that I do, and it will probably happen.

Maybe it won't happen, but that's just something we have to keep telling ourselves. And that's the biggest thing and staying true to yourself. If you feel like you want to work harder at practice and you're going to get teased for it, so what? Go ahead and work hard. We don't have to do group things.

 Think for yourself. That's one thing I learned on my first international trip was really thinking for yourself and really being yourself. And I watched this documentary called “the Playbook” on Netflix and Serena Williams, her coach, was talking about how players tank, like, they just give up and he was trying to figure out why players do that.

And so he started to coddle his players in a way and say, it's my fault. This is my fault, why this happened. And then he got players to really buy in and they stopped tanking after that. So I think a lot of the times we know we have it in us.

It's just scary to believe in it. But if you're scared, that's okay. You can run scared. You can do that. You can do all these things while being scared. Over time, the more we practice it and the more we train it, it will happen.

Stef: 

I love that series on Netflix. It's a great series. Everybody should watch it. It's inspiring. There's also another good series losers, which I found to be a really good motivator, actually, despite the title, it was a really great series. What about your one piece of advice for freshmen heading into college?

You're a female athlete. You're about to go into college. What would you whisper to her today?

Gia: 

I would definitely whisper go in with a blank canvas. Go in knowing it's going to be completely different maybe from what you did in high school training wise. School is going to be completely different. That canvas that's in your dorm room is going to be completely repainted and the way things were done, that was great.

But now it's going to be a bit different and that canvas is going to be painted on for the rest of your life. And if you want to have a new blank canvas every year, then you can do that.

Stef: 

That's such a great visual and I love that because I think it's so important to know that you can always chart a new path and it can look different tomorrow. So it's up to you to make that decision. My last question being a professional athlete is not always what it's made out to be.

It can be tough. I think especially as a female athlete, we have a paid pay gap. We still are not seen in the higher sponsorship dollars as we want to see. And there's a lot of challenges along the way. When you take a step back and think about being a professional athlete and thinking about the impact we want to make on women's sports in the future, what is one thing that you want to see changed for the future of women's sports?

Gia: 

I wish there was more exposure. When I was in high school, I never saw girls being a student athlete. And I never really realized that was an opportunity until I was a junior in high school. And I think a lot of it too, is were your parents athletes, do they know the business really well?

 So I really would like to see resources, like voice and sport, that expose that like, Hey, this is possible. You can play for your national team. You can run for your national team. You can go to college and do this. I would definitely love to see exposure in that way.

Stef: 

Well, we agree. That's why we called it Voice in Sport. We want to see more visibility for female athletes like you Gia. I mean, you're incredible. I'm calling you Scrappy G from now on, but I'm very excited to share this episode with the amazing community that we have at Voice in Sport, but also for more girls to see that it's possible that your path is different than the other paths out there, and you can do it and you forge forward.

So it's inspiring and we're excited that you're part of the Voice in Sport community as a mentor. And please come and sign up with sessions with Gia and good luck this summer. We'll be cheering you on.

Gia: 

Yeah, thank you so much for having me. This was awesome. And I'm really grateful for Voice in Sport.

Stef: 

Thank you.

Thank you to VIS Creator Zosia Bulhak for producing and editing this episode of the Voice in Sport podcast. Zosia is a sophomore at the University of Houston and competes on both the Women’s Cross Country and Track and Field teams specializing in distance. 

Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us Gia! Having a growth mindset and believing in yourself is so incredibly important for having success in sports… But it's not always easy to see obstacles as opportunities. Building this mindset is a process of feeling content with where you are at, but striving to be somewhere else. It’s a really great reminder for all women athletes.  

Gia shared so many great tips on how to manage race anxiety and stay calm before competitions. She also reminded us about the importance of going into college with a blank canvas, and being willing to accept and implement feedback from your new coaches. 

Gia’s comment about believing in the process is so important especially when we are pushing our bodies to their limits. It is easy to overlook an important step when you want to achieve your goals as fast as possible. The best way to get to where you want to do, is through hard and consistent work. As Gia said, she succeeded because she “made hard work a habit”. 

At Voice in Sport it is our mission to bring more visibility to female athletes and elevate their voice through stories like Gia’s. 

 

We appreciate you so much, Gia, for raising your voice in today’s episode. You can follow Gia on Instagram at @giatrevisan.  You can always find us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok @voiceinsport. Leave us a review, subscribe, share our podcast with your friends to show support.  

If you are a female athlete 13-23 we’d love to have you join our Community - when you sign up at Voiceinsport.com you will have access to exclusive Content, Mentorship from amazing pro female athletes like Gia, Expert advice and Advocacy tools to help drive change. 

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We hope to see you next week at the Voice in Sport Podcast.

Gia Trevisan, VIS League™ Mentor & professional 400 meter runner for Team Italy, explains the importance of having a growth mindset in training and in competition.