anxiety caused by the pressure he felt to live up to the towering standard he had set in high school. He dropped out of college after one lackluster year there, turned professional, and stopped having fun. All of that pressure, I just got so worked up about it, Webb said in an interview.
The nerves killed me. Before a race, my stomach would be a knot. I couldn’t relax, because I felt like I had to win. Webb bottomed out at the 2003 U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships, where he finished 10th in the 1,500 m. A week later his appendix burst.
But it was a blessing in disguise. Webb decided to take a full month off from running. He used that month for deep introspection and came out of it knowing that he still loved running and still wanted to run for all the old reasons that had nothing to do with being a professional under heavy pressure to live up to his own name. He came back strong the following year and just got better and better until, in 2007, he broke Steve Scott’s 25-year-old American record in the mile, running 3:46.91.
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