Adversity is part of sports and is part of life.
Throughout a lifetime, many difficult situations will threaten every individual.
These hardships (or tragedies) may even define a person.
When faced with adversity, you really discover what you are made of and who you are as a human being.
You can choose to beat an adverse situation or it can beat you.
It can make you or break you.
Recovering and moving on from difficult scenarios, tragedies and circumstances is part of life but it is a critical component to sporting success.
Adversity in sports doesn’t always give a warning signal.
Many times, athletes are faced with obstacles (bad weather, flat tire, gut problems, low moments, anxiety, worries, pain, suffering, off course, etc.) and in a split second, they have to figure out how to deal with the cards they are given for a favorable outcome.
How you deal with adversity is a true test of your character, resilience, focus and determination as an athlete.
As an athlete, don’t let misfortune define you and don't let hardship break you.
Do not curse, make a scene, lose your temper, make assumptions, play the blame game or throw out excuses.
While some adverse situations are within your control, most unfortunate circumstances are out of your control.
Always keep in mind that the only thing that you can fully control is yourself and how you handle the “this sucks, are you freaking kidding me” situations.
In training and on race day, you can feel defeated OR you can endure your hardship with a champion mindset.
Sometimes race day will not let you demonstrate how hard you worked, your current fitness or how well you prepared.
Although defeat does not mean that you failed, giving up should never be your first or only option.
There’s a lot to be learned from adverse situations.
When things do not go your way, you can learn from the lessons that you were taught, discover something about yourself, make adjustments or simply move on.
When you are faced with an adverse situation and quitting is not an option, choose to carry on as if the adverse situation never happened (easier said than done, especially if quitting is your first thought).
Mistakes, difficulties and detours are critical for athletes.
If you never experience a setback or find yourself in an uncomfortable or troublesome situation, you never get the opportunity to demonstrate a better version of yourself, as an athlete.
Here are a few things to remember when dealing with an adverse situation – in life and in sports.
1. Never give up – The main reason why people give up is because they assume they will not succeed. Well, if you think you may succeed (even just the slightest hope), you will try harder and this effort will move you much closer to success than giving up. There is no straight, paved, sunny sky path to success. There are mountains, uneven roads and detours in every journey so remember that perseverance will pay off. Athletes who persevere through hardships learn a lot more than the athlete who never tries anything for fear of failure. Sometimes you have to be willing to lose to win and to try and fail than to wonder what may have been. Never give up on yourself.
2. Be flexible and persistent – While planning is essential, plans are often useless. As an athlete, the uncontrollable is always going to happen and you can’t plan for everything. You can either adapt and overcome the situation or you can get frustrated and angry and give up. In a perfect world, you can follow a plan but sports are far from perfect. The best team or fastest athlete doesn’t always win, calls and judges are not always fair and success is not always rewarded to the athlete who put in the most work. As an athlete, you must learn how to be flexible, be proactive and be willing to adjust, with tenacity. As long as you keep moving forward, you’ll become more experienced at overcoming any challenge that comes your way.
3. Be mentally strong – Reality check – bad things are bound to happen in training and on race day. You cannot control every situation. While it’s normal to be emotional, flustered and agitated, don’t give up on yourself. If you are having a low moment or something bad happened, hang in there as you never know what’s coming next. In sports, sometimes when something bad happens, something amazing is about to happen. Although sometimes situations just suck all around, don’t let your mind give up on your body.
4. Stay confident – During adverse times, it’s easy to draw upon your weaknesses. Well, what about your strengths? When things don’t go your way, immediately recognize something good in the situation. Life will always give us moments of uncertainly but by staying optimistic, you may find yourself gathering the necessary strength that you need to succeed. And above all, when you can’t change the situation, change the way you think about the situation.
5. Don’t let it define you – Every individual has to experience some degree of adversity on the road to success. Sadly, far too many athlete give up when the going gets tough. To discover your true potential as an athlete, you must have a resilient mindset so that you do not feel defeated when things don’t go as planned.
Don’t let one workout or one race define you as an athlete.
While adverse situation are no fun to deal with when they happen (and it’s ok to be emotional and upset), don’t let a hardship get the best of you.
Let your hardships teach you something.
Sometimes adversity is what you need to face in order to be successful.