Requirements for athletic success
Most athletes want to be successful on race day but success is all relative to the person, in his/her individual journey. Regardless of your definition of success, whether it is to complete a race, to arrive healthy and injury free to the start line, to podium, win the race, have a personal best performance or qualify for a World Championship event, very few athletes truly grasp what it takes to be successful.
The reason for this lack of understanding of "success" is because life is never a smooth path. Many athletes have this idea (in the head) of what it requires to be successful on race day and when life detours in a different direction, it's easy to feel frustrated, with an immediate loss of motivation. In other words, if success isn't easy to achieve, it's easy to quit and give up.
As an athlete, it is important that you are persistent but also see training for an event as more than simply the physical preparation of completing workouts in order to gain fitness. Every athlete needs skills to be successful on race day and many times, we gain valuable skills in our darkest moments, worst setbacks and most frustrating failures.
If you have a race approaching and you find yourself with waves of excitement, anxiety and nerves, I encourage you to search deep inside you to explore your inner WHY. Why are you so passionate about your sport? Why did you get started in the first place? Why are you so invested in doing something amazing with your body that you have never done before? Why this sport?
Commitment to training does not happen by simply registering for an event. You can't buy motivation. If you are ready, willing and itching to go after your goals and dreams, then you must have a clear purpose (a WHY) as to what is driving you each and every day.
I believe that every athlete CAN experience success on race day IF you do not forget your why during obstacles and setbacks. No journey is without adversity and your commitment, persistence and dedication will be tested daily. As an athlete, a requirement for athletic success is expecting your journey to be challenging and sometimes difficult.
If you are an athlete who is not absolutely in love with training and racing, there's probably a chance that you struggle to find motivation to train and maybe even hesitate to register for races. Do you absolutely, without a doubt, love what you get to do with your body as an athlete? Sure, we are all, at times, busy, stressed and overwhelmed but a sport is a hobby, or even better, an outlet to make us happier, healthy and more at ease with life. The more you enjoy what you get to do with your body through training and racing, the easier it will be to put in the time to succeed at your sport.
While your self-identity may be tied to being an athlete, let me remind you that it is ok to take a break from your sport but not from physical activity. While every human being should exercise to reduce risk for disease and to keep yourself in good health, your athletic hobby should be something that you really want to, every day when you wake up in the morning and/or after a long day of work. If your passion in life is shifting, find a physical activity that you are excited about and pursue the activity that makes you happy.
Understanding that every athlete will hit a plateau in fitness gains, will struggle with motivation, will question the time, money and energy needed to improve and will experience adversity, you must trust your training and have a lot of patience in your journey. Embrace the process of success and broaden your definition of success.
Winning is not everything. Sport helps you grow as a person. If your mindset is in the right place, sport can make you feel successful in all areas of your life. As an athlete, remind yourself that you are making a positive impact on others, your kids/family looks up to you, your coworkers envy you and you have the opportunity to inspire everyone that comes into your life.
Above all, it's a privilege to do what you can with your body so don't waste a day in life.