Frerichs said her first exposure to mantras came in college at New Mexico, where her coach, Joe Franklin, constantly reminded his athletes that their season-long quest for a championship in 2015 was about the journey rather than the destination.
“That was really defining for us,” she said. “We were the favorites but we were never thinking about nationals. We were always thinking about the step we were in.”
Franklin would frequently recite four words to the team: “Expect nothing. Achieve everything.”
Those words were in Frerichs’s mind during the first minutes of the national championship race, when the team started slowly but worked together to win.
She also had it in her head as she embarked on her pro career in 2016, beginning with a shot at qualifying for the Rio Olympics. She made the team, and qualified for the Olympic final, finishing in 11th place. It was a solid debut, especially for a 23-year-old, but she left with the nagging sense that she had played it too safe instead of running as if the race might be the last of her life.
The next year as she prepared for the world championships, a new quote caught her eye: “Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.”
From that moment on, “fearless” was her mantra. She said it as she started workouts, as she struggled through them, and as she battled through races. She found a temporary tattoo with the word “fearless” at a market in Park City, Utah, and slapped it on her wrist.