More than 50 athletes have given us their words of wisdom over 2015. Here are ten of our favourite nuggets.
1. Love what you do
“That is the most clichéd, but it also rings true. I love running. Every since I was in first grade I loved the thrill of running fast. I loved to run. If my mother sent me to the store I used to run as quickly as I could to get to the shops and back just to see her reaction. It doesn't matter how much money you earn in the sport, you have to love it.”
2. It's a process
“Sure, we all have a destination, a goal, but it's all about those steps in between. When I won my first world title in Osaka [at the 2007 World Championships] it was one of the easiest competitions of my career, because I had prepared for that moment my whole life.”
3. Stand up for what you believe in
“If you don’t believe in what you are doing and stay true to yourself, then it is all for nothing. I believe you are a stronger person if you live by your morals and ethics. You are then a stronger person when you compete because your mind has that faith and that strength.”
4. Hard work is a global phenomenon
“I always used to think as a boy growing up in the Irish city of Cork that the person living over the other side of the river was different. Yet I've been fortunate enough to travel the world through athletics, and what I've realised is whether the people are Australian or Mexican doesn't matter – people are very similar all over the world.”
5. It's just running
“It's not family, not curing cancer, not feeding the world, it's running around in circles. I think too often pro athletes can lose perspective and forget what is really important in life. I've been lucky to have coach Sam in my life encouraging me to be humble in victory and defeat.”
6. Give something back
“If you receive so much, you must be prepared to give back as well. It always feels special to spend time with kids from my club and I realise how small gestures can make them so happy. It can inspire them and you never know, one of them may go on to achieve more. I am always happy to share my experiences with other aspiring athletes.”
7. Rules breed beauty
“Our technique and movement is formed by the rules, and there is an intrinsic beauty in this. We can achieve this beauty without throwing a lighter hammer or taking banned substances.”
8. Keep pushing
“I never give up in training. I push myself until I feel I am dying, and if you do this, you can become a hero. I like to train hard – whether it is hill training, fartleks or speed work – until it feels like I have lost my mind.”
9. Savour the memories
“I would say enjoy your career as much as you can. When I was a younger athlete with my career ahead of me I thought I've got another 15 years in the sport, which is a long time.
“But time passes quickly and you wonder where that time went. I would say try and hold on to the memories.”
10. Learn for the future
“I recognise this life is not normal, but it is important to remember that one day this phase of my life will be over, so it is important to take away bits and pieces from the sport to take into the next chapter of my life. I treat track and field like my internship for my next life.”
All features in our Words of Wisdom series can be found here.