7/30/15

Be strategic - quitting doesn't have to be an option


Hello Trimarni followers!!
We are back from Lake Placid!! What an amazing trip!

If you were not following along on my Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition Facebook page, I will catch you up on how race day went for our athletes in my next blog.

But for now, I want to share a few tips on how to approach race day when you are faced with a situation that makes you question your desire, ability or motivation to continue.
We have all been there when race day doesn't go as planned but I can assure you that most of the time, quitting will not make the outcome any better. 
You just need to learn how to be strategic with these tips:

1) Unless you are injured or health is compromised, quitting is not an option
Far too many times, I hear of athletes (not Trimarni athletes of course) who drop out of races because the race day is not going as planned. Perhaps the body feels flat, the weather is not ideal or an obstacle arises on race day. Whatever the case may be, I never want you to believe that quitting the race is the best option (unless health is compromised - then you must be smart enough to stop). These athletes assume that if they quit, that there will be another race in the near future that they can sign up for and that race will bring a better performance. Let me tell you that in long distance racing, there is so much out of our control on race day and it is not easy to arrive to the start line with a healthy body and mind. If you are ever in a position when your race day is not going as planned, do not convince yourself that quitting your race and signing up for another race will then give you the perfect race. You didn't train hard just to quit. 
You never know what can happen on race day and this includes even after the fact, when the race isn't going as planned. Many times, we remember the races where we didn't quit and those race make for inspiring and motivational performances. 
I can assure you that it is the races when you feel like there is no way that you can finish or the race is just not going as planned, that you will experience one of the most proudest moments of your life. You will never ever regret a finish but you will really remember the finish when you were once a second away from turning in your chip and calling it a day. 

2) Readjust your goals
How many times have you seen/heard athletes who had a perfect race? Karel and I may have looked like we had perfect races at IMWI because we both reached our Kona qualifying goal and placed top ten overall amateurs and 3rd AG but let me assure you that there were many behind the scene moments for us both that made the race extremely challenging, difficult and even impossible at times to continue to push on. 
As athletes, there will often be times when a place, performance or time goal will fade away as you are racing. When this happens, you have to readjust. Your only goal at that moment is to find a way to keep yourself motivated. Always have a secondary goal. It can be as simple as "just finish" or maybe the goal is to high five every child on the course, thank the volunteers at every aid station or cheer for every athlete that you see who is struggling... or come up with small immediate goals that only have you focusing on 10 minute segments at a time. Just because you are not going to achieve what you originally set out to achieve going into the race, this doesn't mean that your day is ruined. You must search really deep inside to find a way to continue to give a best effort to the finish line. 

3) Stop and figure it out. Now!
From my experience as a coach and as an athlete, the biggest mistake that an athlete can make on race day is not stopping to figure out issues right when they happen. Now I'm not talking about flat tires but instead, cramping, low moments, nutrition issues, breathing issues. Whatever the issue may be, there is no shame in stopping and figuring out the problem. The worst thing you can do is pushing through the issue because your ego won't let you stop because stopping is seen as "failing". Never assume that your issue will magically get better by ignoring it. You'd be surprised how much of a game changer (and life saver) it can be to stop and address an issue for 5-15 minutes than to carry on to find yourself struggling for 30-90+ minutes later in your race. 

4) Go to your happy place
You won't know this feeling until you do a long distance race but you will likely enter a dark, lonely place in your mind at some point (maybe more than once) during a long distance race. Sometimes you will be in this place and your effort is still strong whereas other times you may find yourself unraveling and questioning why you are even racing. Go to your happy place.
My happy place is Kona Hawaii. It is a place that I find myself very calm (even on race day) and I'm in my element surrounded by nature, the ocean and sea life. I just smile thinking about Kona.
Now think about the workout that you nailed in training and made you feel like a million bucks. Take your mind to your favorite bike or run route, where you no matter the workout, you are happy to train. How about friends and/or family who make you happy or your furry child who always makes you smile. We will all have highs and lows in races and they are very unpredictable. Visualizing a happy place will allow you to take your mind away from the moment as you continue to move your body forward and before you know it, you will be in a better place. 

5) Accept the situation - you don't have to like it
We will all experience a race where we wish for a different scenario. You may find yourself saying, "if only things were different." Well, sadly, the situation is what it is. You may not be able to change the situation, but you can change how you approach and handle the situation. 
No matter how sucky, horrible or miserable you are with your situation - whether it's not racing, not finishing, not having the race you imagined to have, having a flat tire (or two), dropping your nutrition or feeling off on race day - you have to come to the realization that life will go on. There will be more races. You will get through your situation and you will be OK. Many times, situations change a person for the worse. Athletes become bitter, mean and hostile. Whatever the situation may be, accept it. You don't have to like it but if are going to let it get to you, be sure that it makes you a better person in the long run.