How A Positive Focus Saved My Track Career

Chari Hawkins is a North American track and field athlete competing in the heptathlon. Chari studied at Bath University in 2017-18 and in this blog, she talks about her move to the UK and how it impacted her mindset and track career.

At the end of 2017, I was at a crossroads. As a professional athlete just starting out, and not totally at the top of my game yet, there were a lot of issues I faced. I made a loss of 400 dollars a year, I was away from my boyfriend and family to train and was spending most of my time working on skills to improve, even just by an inch.


I was broke, I wasn’t improving, and most importantly, I wasn’t happy doing a sport that I used to love. I was told by almost everyone around me that it was time for me to give it up, a decision I didn’t feel comfortable moving forward with. 

That’s when an opportunity to train and study in a new environment came my way that I knew I couldn’t pass up. A chance to not only continue pursuing my career as a heptathlete but doing so overseas while getting my master’s degree. I called my parents, who were always supportive of me, and even they were hesitant. I heard from many people all the reasons I probably shouldn’t go. But something about me? I go for things that feel right... and this was definitely something I knew was the best decision for me. I was absolutely right.


I ended up as the University of Bath the next fall. Before even starting the season, I knew that I had two possible outcomes of the year: 

  1. I was there to get my master’s degree, have fun in my “final year” of track and field, and come home better equipped to start my journey in the real world. 
  2. I was going to get significantly better in the heptathlon and continuing my training through the next Olympic year. A jump in rankings would help me secure sponsors and I promised myself that if I was going to take the time and effort to fly across the world, I would work my hardest to improve, so that if I didn’t get any better, I could say that I gave my all. I think this was the shift.


During my training in England, I was going to school full time for my master’s, but still putting in more hours on the track than ever before. But somehow, I didn’t feel overworked or overwhelmed. 


Every class, workout, drill, run, and even recovery day, I asked questions, approached it with focus, and gave 100 percent. I planned and followed through, and I looked to see how I could get better in every aspect of my life. From starting social media to track my progress, to taking supplements for the first time, I learned that doing things with purpose and focus allowed me to get stronger, faster, and technically better than before. Mixing this with the energy of a new location and facility, a wonderful new coaching staff and awesome new teammates, I was in the perfect position for success. 

I saw myself get better, and the more I saw improvement, the harder I focused. They year wasn’t perfect: I had injury and frustration, but I never lost focus from my promise to myself, and even through the trial, I saw improvement. In just one year of training at Bath, my heptathlon score jumped up over 200 points, and my ranking jumped 15 places.

I loved England so much. It helped me find my mindset, my focus, and the importance of a positive training environment. 

Now, my sights are set on Tokyo, a place I never thought they’d be. And most importantly, a place they might never have been without me taking the risk to move across the world to train in England. So now I take every mindset lesson I’ve learned into my current training and life: Moving with purpose and focus, and most importantly, believing in myself.

Since writing this blog Chari missed out on qualification for the Tokyo Olympics but we know that Chari will bounce back stronger.  Chari wrote on an Instagram Post:

“My heart hurts a little bit. But that’s part of all of this. For us to improve, to grow, to become great, to become our best… we MUST believe in ourselves. And I do. I believe.  Believing in ourselves is WORTH IT! 👏 It’s the thing that’s going to help us get up and get back to work. It’s the thing that got me here to begin with 💪.  One day doesn’t define us, good or bad. What does is how we respond, how we come back, and how we treat others in the process. Let’s keep pursuing our passions, strive to get better, and raising the bar for ourselves.” 


All of us at Runners Need know that Chari’s positive focus will continue to drive her and we look forward to seeing Chari back out on the athletics track soon.



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