This past weekend my son, won a local 1 mile kid’s race. He’s 13 and is a pretty good runner for his age group. He’ll age out of this race next year but has been competing in it since he was in kindergarten. Every year he’s gotten faster (as you might expect) but this year was the first time he said to me- “Dad, I really want to win this race”. I responded by saying- “it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, etc……”. What I really wanted to say was- go ahead and try to win, run as hard as you can. The reason I didn’t say it- I was afraid of placing too much pressure on him. I didn’t want him to get so scared of losing, that he couldn’t win. He just needed to trust his training.
As a coach I feel the pressure of my athletes trying to do well in their races and ALWAYS want them to win, but I realize winning isn’t everything nor should it be. Sometimes is all about the process- training, nutrition, sleep/rest/recovery, equipment, etc….it’s what we do and how we do it. Putting in the work and making ourselves feel better is good enough for most people.
But winning a race that we have targeted is such a gratifying feeling. We all have sacrificed, we all have gotten up at 0400 to get 2 hrs in before work, or stayed in garage staring at wall doing intervals on the trainer till everyone’s asleep. We do it because we want to win, (just once would be nice) we sacrifice because we want to feel it. The satisfaction that comes with knowing that you did the work and paid off.
My son paid his dues, he finished the previous year in 3rd place and ran the fastest 1 mile he’s ever run, but on that day there were two kids faster. He was disappointed but realized he got beat fair and square. So this year he worked harder in training and when he crossed the line with his hand in the air, fingers shaped in a V, I knew by the look on his face that he had that feeling we all want.
Of course we are just talking about a race, we’re not saving the world here, I realize that. But we as athletes want to see tangible results come from our hard work, and if it ends in a W, then all the better!
So, this winter when you’re pounding the pedals on the trainer staring at the wall, think about that feeling you are working so hard to experience. Imagine what it will feel like when you cross the line with your hand raised in a V.
Somebody’s gonna win, it might as well be you.