Do we defeat ourselves?

A recent blog entry from an athlete of mine got me thinking. The general gist of the message was that my man felt he was just a bucket list athlete, and didn’t stack up against others such as myself. He felt despondent at having not found a love within multi-sport racing, and that it had not fulfilled him as he thought it would.

I had a similar discussion with some training buddies not long ago, and we concluded that due to the circles we frequent, it is all too easy to get lost in a world of pb’s and wattage figures. For everyone out there, certainly everyone who does this sport as an amateur, there will always be those we look up to. My pb’s will be amazing to some, a bad training day to others, but the point is they are mine.

I thought about the negativity that I sometimes use around my running ability. I frequently lament my poor running, but actually, it isn’t that I am a bad runner, far from it, it is just that I don’t stack up against those running 31 – 35 mins for a 10k, or a 3:10 marathon split in the Ironman. Very few of us do!

I wouldn’t say that I ‘race’ triathlons any more than the next person on that start line – as age groupers we are all going to get smashed by the pros. Do we take all the fun out of the sport by ourselves? Do we get too carried away with what is considered ‘good’, and forget about why we are doing this in the first place? I don’t really see myself as any different from those I coach. I am a decent triathlete, but again, this goes back to a definition of what is decent? This will differ from person to person.

This is particularly at the forefront as I build up to the London marathon in under two weeks time. I am hoping to finally have that breakthrough run and go around the 3h15 mark, but will I still think that’s pretty average? I personally know people who would do that off an Ironman bike and some, but does that belittle what I may achieve? To my mind no, and this is the point. I won’t be in the press the next day beside Mo Farah, but I will be damn happy should I hit my target. Do we put the pressure on ourselves, and in doing so, ruin the enjoyment that we may gain from pursuing the impossible? Do we label ourselves bad runner, bucket-list athlete, poor swimmer, fat plodder as a means of protecting ourselves from criticism, and in doing so, are we ourselves the biggest barrier to enjoyment and success?

In recognising that we have the discipline to train daily, and to even ask the question how good can I be, do we need to change our mindset to that of an ‘athlete’? Ultimately, very few will have their names pressed into the record books for eternity, but the one consistent theme of those who do make it is a long list of failures.

A love for what you do is important to success in all walks of life as without this we will not suffer to be the best we can be. If triathlon, duathlon, fencing, bowling, teaching, physio, whatever is not your passion then by all means stop, but take time to recognise what you have achieved, and maybe in doing this, you will recognise that you achieved more than you give yourself credit for.

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