Congratulations to all!
Today was the High School Footlocker Cross Country NE Regionals also powered by Asics, to which I had the most honorable opportunity to partake in congratulating and encouraging these athletes. This meet was a race that qualified the top 10 athletes a bid to race at the Footlocker Cross Country National Meet held in San Diego, CA on December 14, 2013.
They had to conquer this 5,000 meter course (200meters over 3 miles) for their spots.
There were amazing wins, fights for the first 10 spots in the championship race, there was the devastating 11th place finish and there were the athletes that were fighting their own battles and celebrating the small victories. What I love so much about youth sports in general is the sheer innocence that is involved in competition.
While these youngsters were asking me to give a few inspiring words as they asked advice, I sat steadily learning from them being inspired by them myself.
A mentor of mine, once told me: "The teacher learns more in the process of teaching."
After these interactions, I always remember what he means. I always find myself inspired and eager to sit down at my own personal drawing board.
The people I met and the corresponding advice I gave;
(The advice I give comes as I put myself in their shoes having worn them all myself in varying sizes.)
1. The "I'm happy with the win,but I feel so nervous of the expectation of winning next time."
Advice 1. Focus on your accomplishment right now, don't let this victory pass you by, appreciate it. The truth is, it may not happen again, but you now know that it CAN happen. Don't worry about tomorrow, you have no control over it. When you get to that bridge to cross it, fear not, you are the one who has built that structure laying down all the planks yourself so you can cross it. That does not mean you will be guaranteed to be the first person to cross it, but you can do everything in your power to lay your own planks to get to other side. Yes, it is a fact that there is another person that is building a bridge to get to a similar point as you, dwelling on the "what if's" disables you from seeing the "what is".
2. The "I used to win all the time, but I can't quite fight the mental demons and the pressure, how do I make it fun again, I worry about everyone else's times and who might beat me."
Advice 2. Truth is you can't win all the time, but you can certainly try! Try and get back to the basics, set aside a positive for every negative thought that comes to mind. If worrying about other athletes, whose in the race and what time they have run before throws you off, DO NOT LOOK AT THE ENTRIES, get off of forums that direct you to links about your upcoming events or past ones that might throw you off. Let family and friends in on how you feel about it, so they know that it effects (you won't be able to stop everyone from infiltrating your thought process, but who cares because those people don't matter, and what do they know anyway, the truth is "Haters or gonna hate" and they should probably be worrying about themselves.
Remember all stats are just recordings of events on paper, you can't record heart and courage. All favorites are just predictions and no body can predict the future. Anything can happen on any day, no one is immune to fortune, disparity, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and so on! Encourage yourself by focusing on the HERE and NOW. Don't blame yourself for not winning, it really isn't what it is about at the end of the day. In life things will often pan out differently as YOU planned, the best you can do is take it in, think it out, move it on. In, out, on… repeat that. Before you know it you will have taken the pressure off of yourself and will allow yourself the opportunity to have fun again, these feelings may return on and off, but it is a practice, keep at it!
3. The "I'm just so happy to be here!"
Advice 3. Um… GREAT!!! (HUGS!!)
4. The "I'm just not good enough."
Advice 4. What does "good enough" mean. Never tell yourself you are not "good enough" for anything. You are your own entity, therefore you write your own standard of what is "good enough". Maybe you are not a 5K runner, at the end of the day, it's what your doing now, but it may not be your future. That is OK, but the truth is YOU FINISHED THE RACE, you are GOOD ENOUGH. Be a team leader, be the inspirational guru. If you feel like you lack in the physical ability at the moment, but you still want to be on the team, don't worry you don't have to miss out on the fun of being on a team in High School because you are not one of the top scoring runners, everyone on the team has an important role… including YOU!!! Cross Country is important to build overall strength and fitness, so don't give up, ask you coach if he thinks there any other events you can try for the track season, but please don't give up on cross country.
Cheer up, you are somebody!
5. The "But, I'm a middle distance runner…"
Advice 5. Great you are already ahead of the game, the longer distances and training you are getting now in Cross Country will give you a better base of strength endurance as you move towards track season. You will thank me later. Stick with it.
6. The "I'm trying, but I just can't seem to get better"
Advice 6. Sit back and look at your training from the outside. Talk to your coach, is it a training issue why you are not getting better or are you being impatient. Sometimes improvements come very quickly and then we ride a plataeu for a little bit until we get better OR sometimes we ride a plateau, drop drastically or gradually before climbing back up again. It is all apart of the process and everybody goes through it. Again, don't give up and know that you are building tremendous character.
7. The "I was so close, and and… I don't know, I just missed it (sobs)"
Advice 7. Ah, I knew this would come up, I know how you feel. This one race does not define you. You are great, you know it's there inside of you. Maybe there is a piece of your race you can tighten up for the next time you give it a go. But there is a possibility that everyone else ran out of their minds too, don't discount the ability of the other runners. Don't over think what could have been or what wasn't, your sure to get another chance in another area at another time. Don't let this put you in a funk or a depression… Don't kill me when I say the words I dread to hear myself, but it is "JUST A RACE", one that you put in a lot of time dedication and passion, that's why you feel the way you do, but at the same time the reason I mention it is "JUST A RACE" is so that you see that there is a much bigger picture to this race. Who you are isn't based on what place you finished, but in the fact that you cared, you tried, you want to be better, you set a goal and went after it, whether you hit the exact goal you were working towards doesn't matter to the character you built in that process. Now, sit down at your drawing board and make a plan. This race has made you hungrier than ever, and the hunger of an ambitious being, is a force to be reckoned with.. USE IT!!! It' is not about the destination, it is about the journey.
I get it, I know it, I've been there and it is all so familiar when I am talking with the athletes that are searching for answers. I am thankful to have these questions come my way, as I was able to remind myself.
BIGGEST TAKE AWAYS:
- Build your own bridge, know others may be building one to get to a similar spot, don't tear others bridges down and don't take short cuts to building your bridge.
- You can't win all the time. (If, you're anything like me, you are probably thinking WHY NOT!) Good thing is…
- You can always TRY! "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."
- Remember the basics "Take care of the small things and the big things will take care of themselves."
- Don't worry about other people. When it comes to affecting your performance and something that may be hurting you mentally, forget em… And really they should most likely be worrying about themselves, don't listen to the "Haters". If you can't figure out a polite way to tell them, "my coach and I got it"… send them this video link.
- Be happy
- You write your own standard for greatness, don't try to fit in someone else's box of "good enough"
- Anything can happen on any day!
- It is not about the destination, it's about the journey.
- IN, OUT, ON- Take it in, Think it out, Move it on.