Manage your lows AND your highs
Woah!! It’s already time for another Coach Tip Tuesday!!
This week, I want to talk about something that most people (in my experience) never consider: managing your highs.
In sport, a lot of athletes worry about the lows. The days when they don’t feel great. The races where they don’t perform the way they expect to. The runs that result in repeated bathroom stops. The rides that make one feel like they are pedaling through quicksands. The swims where one feels like they drink more water than they swim through.
The lows are significant, and it IS important to learn how to address, manage, and cope with those. But it’s equally important to manage the highs.
I know, I know. You’re all like, “What the heck, Coach Laura?! Why would we need to consider managing GOOD feelings?!?! Good feelings are GOOD!! Only bad things need to be managed!!”
Just like everyone has lows, everyone does have highs. And on the days when things do go exactly as planned -- when running feels like a breeze, or you feel like the winner of The Tour de France on your bike, or you’re Ariel herself as you swim -- you have a LOT of emotions. Yes, they are generally positive, but it’s still a lot of emotion to handle.
The very real truth of the matter is this: if you do not learn how to properly manage your highs, you will be met with a dramatic low that is the inverse of your high.
You’ve all likely experienced some form of this. It sometimes manifests as “post-race blues,” where one doesn’t know what to do now that they smashed their goal. Other times, it comes up in a workout that feels exactly the opposite of the one that caused the high. Other times, it pops up in a race down the line where you expected a different outcome based on prior great results.
Learning how to acknowledge, process, address, and manage good emotions is a very important skill in life and in sport. A good coach can help you navigate this path and help you to set smart expectations for yourself as far as how you will feel on a good day, how you will feel on a bad, and what you should do if either situation arises.
One of the most important pieces of this puzzle is to acknowledge that these fluctuations in feelings, experiences, and emotions are a very real part of the process of being a human AND of being an athlete. Like so many other things in life, admitting that this is something that is real is the first step. With that recognition comes a mindset where one is open to helping themselves through this process, instead of trying to deny it and pretend that it doesn’t exist.
Once one fully embraces the idea that highs and lows are a part of sport and life, one can then move to discovering the best way to manage them. This looks different for each person (and it’s why a third-party perspective (i.e. a coach) can be so valuable). So how one person processes a personal victory will not look the same as someone else, and that’s okay.
As you start to plan your season for this year, I encourage you to manage your lows AND your highs. It’ll make ALL days - training sessions and races - that much better for you this year. :)