CHARLESTON, S.C. - Taylor Barnes, the sunshine of the cross country team, has improved her personal record four meets in a row. The coaches and the support of her family and team are huge reasons behind the success of the freshman from Florence. Barnes is currently preparing for the Big South Conference Championship in Virginia, October 28th.
"I look forward to seeing how well the team can place among other teams in the Conference and how well my training pays off this season. Personally, I hope I will PR because I have done so in every race and I really want to achieve my sub 20-minute goal for the 5k," Barnes said.
The secret that sets Barnes apart from most runners is staying brave and positive no matter what, while maintaining a balance between meticulously logging her miles from 7 a.m. morning runs and maintaining a social life and a personal identity rooted in Christ.
"You have to fill your mind with positive thoughts before the race and you have to dare to run at all times," Barnes explained excitedly. "Many athletes struggle with not just daring to run but finding a balance and an identity outside of running. My identity is not in running because my identity is in Christ. When you focus so much on running and who you are as a runner you need to give yourself time to be in the Word and see who you are in Christ, in relationships, in your family and as a student. Still, a big part of me is in running and running has helped me to get through a lot of things," Barnes said.
According to Barnes running is not always easy. Mostly, it's hard. Especially if you want to improve consistently.
"It's important to acknowledge the pain and embrace it; this is where everything pays off. Without pain, there will be no advancement and if you weren't in pain you know you didn't push yourself."
Taylor Barnes may not be the typical tough girl but the public health major has some serious guts. She never wants to get to the end of a race thinking that she could have gone harder and faster, which is another reason for achieving success this season.
"It's been hard and I've had some doubts. But then I run a race and see how much better I got," said Barnes. "I need to push through the wall and trust that I have trained hard enough to keep the pace and that I am physically capable," Barnes added.
Gaining confidence and learning to trust the coaches and the training is a process that many new student-athletes go through. Barnes has already learned to listen to the leadership and has grown in confidence throughout the season.
"It's my first year and I have broken my PR so many times. I have no doubt that they will do what is best for us," Barnes said. "A big part of my life is the testimony of running. I'm looking forward to situations where I can use that. God has me at Charleston Southern for a reason."
Trusting the process, working together through thick and thin and having accountable coaches and training partners that motivate you to get up early and finish hard at races are essential parts of a strong Championship team.
"As a team, we have all been training really hard, running faster at practice and overall. If we stick together and pull one another along we have a good chance to finish well at Conference," Barnes concluded with a smile.
The 2017 Big South Conference Cross Country Championship is scheduled for Saturday, October 28th, in Lynchburg Virginia, on the campus of Liberty University. All 10 Big South members will compete in the women's 5k race.