You will struggle to find more humble and inspiring a retired pro than Rebecca Lyne. Having gone into the sport through a relatively traditional route - school XC team, local club, junior prominence, first international appearance - she has come out the other end with a stunning palmares and wisdom aplenty. Still ranked 6th all-time fastest British 800m runner with a European bronze medal decorating the mantlepiece, Becky now feels her competitive candle has burned out. These days, her eyes are firmly trained on the future of her company and her role in the world of sports in the broader sense. We took the liberty of pulling her back to the glory days for just a second so that she could enlighten us on her journey from ultra-competitive athlete to founder and CEO of GRACE-full Running.
Who is Becky Lyne?
Running has been a part of Becky's life since school. She shares a hometown with Jessica Ennis-Hill and went to the same school as Seb Coe. There must be something in the water up in 't fair city of Sheffield...
At 12 years old, she joined the Hallamshire Harriers and it wasn't long before she made her first senior international appearance for England at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester. In 2003, she won gold in the 800m final at the U23 European Championships in Poland and just three years later she also claimed bronze at the 2006 European Championships in Sweden as a senior - with three domestic championship titles in between. It wasn't until 2006 that she ran her PB of 1:58.2 at the British Grand Prix in Gateshead which still stands as one of the fastest times ever run by a British woman.
Lessons from a bright career
There are always plenty of lessons to be learned from success. Reflecting on what she wishes she could have told her younger self, she quickly come to a conclusion. "Looking back now, the main mistake I made was that I always tried to be superhuman," she confesses. "I always tried to be invincible and go that extra mile, ignoring what my body was trying to tell me day-to-day. In the end, that was a big part of my downfall."
One of the most valuable assets in an athlete's arsenal is a humble mentality. She defines this as a willingness to listen both to the people around you, but most especially to your own body. She didn't want to seem 'soft' by communicating a niggle to her coach, or she wilfully ignored a warning sign and decided to push through it. It is an easy trap to fall into at that level of competition, but that is where silly mistakes are made.
Humility also applies to the goals you set for yourself. For example, the status of 'pro athlete' and all it entails - the training camps, the high-quality races, the sponsorships, the salary - is a car many dogs like to chase, but Becky feels it should come with a disclaimer.
"If you are one of those people who 'will be happy when', becoming a professional athlete is probably not what you really need. Truth be told, it can be an extremely insecure and uncertain life. That job title comes with a huge amount of pressure so unless you are satisfied with who you are as a runner and as a person things could become very challenging mentally." She reiterates that enjoyment and fulfilment should always be the first and foremost goal in sports, regardless of the level of competition.
Becky knows exactly who she is and what she seeks, and it isn't to be found in performance. "My competitive nature has run its course," she explains. "Running a certain time isn't going to make me happy. I have been there, and I never again want my happiness to hinge on the numbers on a stopwatch." It is important to remember that you are not a bad athlete when things don't go to plan.
A rise from the ashes
No matter how fast she ran, Becky could never outrun the injuries that plagued her career and eventually led her to decide to retire. Coming from a background in sports science, she knows that humans are fundamentally made to run. The more she got injured, the more she would wonder: "if I am made to run, why do I keep getting hurt? What am I doing wrong?".
While she was trained to look at the essence of running and how things worked, it wasn't until she picked up dancing that she gained a deeper understanding of how the body moved and what it nee