I found my secret race-day weapon when I was a junior in high school. I’d just started running the mile. As a former 300-meter hurdler, the contrast was stark, and I needed something to get through it. Not only did I have to run a little over three more laps around the track, I still had to run them hard. So, I started smiling. The whole time. Literally, the entire race.
At first, smiling was simply a way to trick my opponents into thinking I was taking it easy and having a good time. I thought it might throw them off just enough to give me an advantage. It did give me an advantage but for a very different reason. Smiling, it turned out, actually made running my race easier. Not only did spectators start to call me the “girl who is always racing and smiling” (this is true; they would literally point to me and say this), but my times dropped, too.