Monday, September 14, 2009

Good Advice

So in describing my race yesterday to a client, she gave me some really good, albeit unexpected advice. I've been working with her for a few years now, and we know one another well, so I give what she says a good listen.

In so many words, she said that I'm afraid of winning. At first I was a bit taken back, saying to myself, "I've won races before, that can't be it", but soon her explanation made sense. Being that both her sons are swimmers, she takes a lot of interest in my races. The reoccurring theme in all my "race reports" to her, seem to be that something either the night, day, or week before went wrong. Either it was a girlfriend thing, not getting enough sleep, drinking a couple beers, etc. The major point she made was that I seem to sabotage myself before the race even begins. I work hard and train my balls off (my words, not hers!) and go ahead to ruin it with a dumb decision in the last 12-24 hours before the race.

After giving it some thought, I realized she was right. I think in an attempt to trick myself into relaxing the day and night before a race, I approach it as if it's no big deal. In effect, I take myself out of the game before I even begin.

I think I do this for two reasons. First, I believe it will allow me to perform better and be less of a headcase on race day. Interestingly, it actually has the opposite effect. And secondly, I think that on a subconscious level, I do this because it's a built in excuse. In other words, I'm afraid to "not be good enough" on any day, so I build in these "events" before the race to have something to blame a poor performance on. What I need to realize, as she put it, is that I have all the tools and all the talent. I'm good at this, and can be even better. I need to approach the final 12-24 hours before a race just like I do the 6 months before a race. Professionalism all the way. After the race is the time for beers and pizza, not the night before.

I've always thought that I wasn't afraid to fail. I always thought that failure was an option because it's through our failures that we learn to be better. It's an easy thought to have, but what really matters is whether or not we truly believe that. I honestly believe that the best athletes, performers, etc. are the ones that have no reservations to fail. Sure it sucks and it's definitely not the goal, but if it happens, so what, try again-and again, and again, and again until you achieve what you set out to do.

The saying about Benjamin Franklin is so cliche, but it's right. In developing the light bulb, he didn't fail thousands of times, he just discovered ways NOT to make a light bulb.

Failure is only failure if you don't try again. I'm not gonna be afraid to try again.

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