Photo Description: The finish line of IRONMAN 70.3 Lake Placid in 2017 as seen from the perspective of someone heading into the finisher’s chute. I am standing under the finish arch, smiling, and waiting with a medal. My friend Yvonne, who I was coaching at the time, has her back toward the camera and is running toward the finish line. The time on the official race clock at the finish line reads 9:31:30, which is 1:01:30 over the course time limit for this race. This means that Yvonne received a DNF (Did Not Finish) as her official result that day. My joy for her reaching this personal milestone was not eclipsed by that finish time. In fact, I was MORE proud of her for continuing even though she knew she wouldn’t get an “official” finish. Yes, indeed, that day was a celebration, even if it didn’t end in what most people would define as “success.”
What a Coach Tip Tuesday it is!!
This weekend, a significant number of the athletes who I work with will be racing at important-to-them races. There will be folks at IRONMAN Maryland, IRONMAN 70.3 Augusta, the Berlin Marathon, and at the Singapore International Triathlon. All of these athletes have put in the work to earn the right to toe the start line of these events, and now it is time for them to reap the rewards of the hard work they’ve done and to celebrate that investment that they’ve made into themselves.
This brings me to this week’s Coach Tip: CELEBRATE your accomplishments and EMBRACE your races. More than 75% of athletes who toe the start line of an IRONMAN-distance race sustain a training-related injury along the way. If you are someone who reaches the start line of an IRONMAN injury-free, you are already ahead of the game. And this holds true for any event: if you are healthy, breathing, and able to participate in a race, it is something to celebrate.
If you know me, you know that I do not think that a person’s worth is based on the time that shows on a finish line clock. Races are outstanding opportunities for growth. They can show us what we are truly made of, and how strong we really are. They are celebrations, both for the athlete and for their support team. 10+ years into endurance sports, I can tell you with absolute certainty that I get more excited about other people’s athletic accomplishments that I do about my own. Cheering on and celebrating my family, friends, athletes, and colleagues is such a joyful thing!! Seeing someone you care about doing something they love and are enjoying is one of the best things in the entire world. This holds true for all of your support teams, whether you realize it or not. :)
My opinion of someone doesn’t change if they don’t get a PR or if they have a “bad” race time-wise. Of course, I would be sad with them that they didn’t reach their goal, but I do not think that a race result defines someone’s character. I know that I am not the only person who thinks this, so now I’m talking to you all out there: NO ONE is going to think less of you if you don’t reach a particular time result. If they do, then they probably are not someone that you want to be hanging out with anyway. ;) I still love and care about the people close to me, no matter what their finish times in a race are.
I’ve worked with a lot of athletes over the years. I am also an athlete myself. I know first-hand how easy it is to take oneself way.too.seriously and get very stressed about the outcome of a race. I learned a long time ago that that stole a lot of joy from my journey. Therefore, I decided that it wasn’t worth doing to myself, I made a very intentional choice to be joyful and embrace the fun factor in all of this, and I’ve been trying ever since to help others do the same.
Most of us are very average age group athletes. We spend our disposable income and time on endurance events. As such, it’s really important that these activities bring us JOY. If they do not bring us joy, then they are not worth all of that time and expense; it would be better allocated on a different hobby or activity that does bring joy.
As you approach your next important-to-you event, I encourage each and every one of you to celebrate yourselves and the journey that brought you to that place. This weekend, join me and several of the fabulous athletes I work with as we CELEBRATE together that they are all healthy, happy, and ready to embrace what their race days give them. :)