So here we are… race season has begun. You’ve been working hard everyday to meet your goals. Expectations are through the roof and accountability with peers, friends and family is even higher. You’re ready, primed and excited! You’re even looking forward to the stress and pain that race day can bring. This is race day: there is no tomorrow!
However, what happens when it doesn’t go your way? What happens when you don’t meet your goal? A DNF? An injury? What then? What now!!! Is it a great time to panic? Yes. Yes, now is a great time to panic! Are you panicking yet? Oh Good. Done? No? Oh ok I will wait… now?
See being upset and mad and frustrated is a good thing! But you only have a few moments to feel this way. You cannot linger in the depth of self-pity a second more than is necessary. Yes it hurts. Yes it sucks giant monkey balls… but did you get in this sport for this one and only goal? Is this a one and done situation? Is this a lifestyle or a hobby you do once and move on from? If this is a hobby… please stop reading this now.
Ok now… remember back to all those hours of training, the laughs, pains and experiences. What are they worth? Think back to your skill development. How you achieved that speed you thought was impossible, that distance and endurance that you fought so hard to achieve…but you did. What about the many sacrifices you’ve made? Your family and close ones were probably the first ones to lose you and your time…was that time away from them not worth it? How do you repay them?
Whatever the reason for your disappointment you cannot let it eat you. You cannot let one experience determine your overall goals and lifestyle. You adapt, you change, you push and you overcome. You must stay positive. Find the next goal. In a team-sport like hockey or soccer does the goalkeeper get down on himself or walkaway after he lets in a bad goal? The best athletes in the world know how to rebound and move forward. Learn, overcome and move on. Stay positive.
A DNF or bad result does not define you. It should enhance you. I have 4 DNF’s to my name. They are with me always. I don’t shy away from them and I use them to make me better, faster and stronger. It is always hard to miss on your goal. But that is why we have them. We set goals to be better. It’s that simple. Better how you may ask? That’s for you to decide. Maybe a better swimmer? Better overall athlete? Better at finding balance with work/training/family? Goals will always demand that you push yourself to new heights.
Someone once said to me, “I don’t set goals so I don’t get disappointed.” To that I respond with this: Endurance sport are about pushing your limits and finding new levels of performance. It’s only you against your limits. How do you push and grow those limits if not by taking chances on race day? A DNF is nothing more than a opportunity to push your limits further.
That’s racing. That’s race day. There is no tomorrow. Race hard. Race smart. Push yourself!