Today I ran the Secret City Triathlon, with my main goal being to improve my swim time and overall time from last year. While my swimming time improved greatly from last year and my form is MUCH better, I only shaved two minutes off of my overall time. When I got done with my 500 meter swim and mounted my bike it only took three miles for my whole lower body to start cramping up. By the time I was on mile 8 it was getting more and more difficult to push past the pain of my legs and feet seizing up relentlessly. While I continued to push as hard as I could, my immediate response was to start making excuses… “This humidity is why this is happening” / “maybe I should have worn different shoes”, etc. The truth is that I did not train hard enough for this race. While I have put a lot of effort into running lately I have only swam a handful of times in the last month and I did not practice the bike course before the race. My lack of preparation left me completely cramped up by the time I did the run. It took almost two miles for my soleus muscles to loosen up so that I could have a stronger finish.
In making a million excuses and almost talking myself into walking some of the running course, I decided to change my frame of reference. When we make excuses, we limit ourselves from getting better, faster, and stronger. Excuses keep us from learning and moving forward in any context, be it sports, work, or school. Instead of making excuses, learn from your mistakes and don’t view a mistake as a reason to stop. Become comfortable with being imperfect, for it is imperfections and mistakes that help us learn from our experiences and shape who we are as individuals.
Reflecting back on this year, I could make a lot of excuses to make me feel better when things go wrong. Going through a divorce, job change, and moving to a new community have definitely thrown some challenges in what seemed to be a perfect, uncomplicated life that I had before. Instead of making excuses, I view each set back as a challenge to get better as a person and as an athlete. I am comfortable with being imperfect and learning lessons. It is this humility that sets me apart from many in my generation who want everything handed to them on a silver platter. The reality is that no one owes you anything in life. Accomplishments, championships, personal bests are earned, never given. It is the cycle of practice, consistency, and hard work that helps me to accomplish my goals. Moving forward into my next weeks of training I will remember this. I will drive myself to put in the work to achieve what I want. I will recognize my inner potential, but understand that potential does not become anything without practice and training.