1. You look amazing in street clothes after months of seeing yourself covered in sweat, wearing spandex and no makeup.
2. It’s not about the result or the destination; it’s about the journey.
Races, and any other goals in life, don’t just appear one day. They happen after days and months of effort. Luckily, it is the days and months during which you give the effort that often give you the most satisfaction – especially when you look back on race day and acknowledge how you “got there.”
3. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. And, on that note, if something really is worthwhile to you, you will go to great lengths to make it happen.
Because of my various medical issues, I often feel terrible after 8pm or 9pm on the weekdays, but it is usually the only time I have to plan for my next day. I have to force myself, through terrible fatigue, to tune up my bike, set up my breakfast, pack my clothes, etc., so I’ll be ready to work out in the morning and sleep an extra 15 minutes. But when I started doing this regularly, I started my day feeling a lot calmer and more prepared, and that carried over into my daily life. I continue to plan like I always did, but now I try to do a lot of legwork in advance of big days.
4. The people with whom you surround yourself will often make or break you.
Attitudes are contagious. I worked out alone for years because groups I joined were very unfriendly to the less-than-elite. Once I started working out with friendly groups, I got faster and stronger. Were they that much better as athletes? Some of them – but mostly it was because the positive environment fostered personal growth. Training buddies (the right ones, anyway) can do wonders for your self-esteem! The same goes with friends in other parts of your life.
5. Do not be afraid to do things differently if they make something work for you.
I can’t train with gels and most sports drinks. I tried just about everything out there, and I finally started to land on the options that worked best for me by asking around and being unafraid to get blank stares when the majority of my group used something different. The alternative was puking or pooping myself silly at every race. I also can’t ride on most women’s-specific saddles. The alternative is horrific, cystic saddle sores that eventually become infected. I think being the oddball is the better alternative in both cases!
6. Just because you are CAPABLE of doing something, doesn’t mean you NEED to.
Just because you CAN eat cake at every meal, doesn’t mean you should, because eventually you’ll look and feel horrible. The same goes with racing and training. Just because you CAN go 140.6 miles doesn’t mean it’s the right thing for YOU to do.
7. Rest more than you think you ought to, but push more than you think you can.
Going along with “just because you are capable,” you don’t need to train twice a day, 6 days a week – especially if you’re not getting paid to do it. Respect your taper and rest days, and every now and then take an extra one. Hell, don’t worry about an extra 2 or 3 if you’re sick, or traveling, or just plain tired – you probably need them, and your fitness isn’t going anywhere in a few days. That doesn’t mean you should be lying around eating bonbons and expecting to finish races in amazing times. It means that, on the days you have intense workouts, give 110% to your workouts – push just a little more than you think you can - and then on the days that you rest, give the same effort to resting! After all, it’s just as important, if not more so.
8. The race really is YOU versus YOU.
In life, as in training, someone will always be better, faster, stronger, smarter, prettier. So don’t worry about beating them. Worry about beating yourself.
9. Use obstacles as a reason to excel, not an excuse to fail.
Moliere said “the greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” I truly believe I thrive in situations where people – including me – don’t expect me to make it. The worse things get, the more I step up my game. As an added bonus, when things are even the slightest bit better, they seem like a breeze!
10. The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.