Most people who know me, know I am slightly competitive. Even the smallest chores in life become a competition to me. So when I see that same competitive drive in an athlete, I thrive on it and push them to their limits. I want to see what they are fully capable of and how far they can go. It becomes just as exciting for me to watch my athletes train, work hard and race well as it does for me to succeed. Their success becomes my success.
But when does competition go too far? How upset should you be when you have a bad training day, or even worse, a bad race? There is nothing more disappointing to an endurance athlete as to perform poorly in a race they spent hours upon hours training for, in order to be as competitive as possible. But just maybe, we should check our disappointment at the door, and rethink our purpose. Frustration is to be expected after a bad race, but sometimes, it’s our ego that gets in the way and creates a heightened sense of failure that’s just not realistic. Tamping down your ego can be a very tough thing to do when you’ve been waking up at 5am, sacrificing family time and sweating all alone for hours, so that you can crush your upcoming race. A healthy ego is good, but an overblown one tends to create major problems for you and those around you, especially in competitive environments like racing. So, my only advice is to always remember the thing or things we really love about endurance sports. A few things I love the most are the comradery of sharing the pain and effort with others, the friendships (especially those), and experiencing different parts of town by foot or bike. We each have different things we love about triathlon or running, but if there wasn’t at least one thing, why would we even waste our time.
So, whether you have the best race of your life, or things just don’t go as planned, I always say “your finishing time is not tattooed on your forehead”. It is easy to get wrapped up in training and racing, but we have to step back and remember the bigger picture. You never know who you are inspiring by putting in all the hours and effort, so no matter how bad you feel or if your race goals have fallen apart, always put on a smile for those people who respect you for trying and for that fact that you truly love what you’re doing. The race will end, but those pictures will be on the internet forever! J