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Dealing with Adversity is Essential for Success

“Nothing happens to the wise man against his expectation,” he wrote to a friend. “. . . nor do all things turn out for him as he wished but as he reckoned—and above all he reckoned that something could block his plans.” - Seneca

Thanks to Pablo Gomez for sharing this piece with me: https://dailystoic.com/premortem/


It might seem odd to spend a lot of time dwelling on negative things, but I think it's important to separate the concept of being a negative person from being realistic that there are lots of negative things that can happen in life.


Fixing a Flat Tire

In sport, the first thing that I think it's important to realize is that ALL triathlon/running/cycling problems are very much first world problems. Bonking might suck, but it's not the same as going without eating for three days because you can't actually afford food. Current events continuously remind us that we should treasure each day we are given and be thankful for the opportunities and challenges we have.


Sport is a Safe Place to Fail

While it is WAYYY more fun to visualize the ideal and "best case" race or training scenario, it's perhaps more realistic to think and plan through all the things that can (and probably will) go wrong. It's Murphy's law, right?


We can't plan for every negative thing that might happen of course, but we can think through how we will handle negativity and deal with adversity when it occurs. As humans, what we DO is overcome adversity. And sport is the safest place in the world I can think of to practice! I tell our parents at Splash and Dash to stay out of transition and let their kids put their shoes on the wrong feet or forget their socks. Why? Because sport is a safe place to fail.


Triathlon Racing

Endurance sports are built on the backbone of problem-solving and overcoming setbacks. The first IRONMAN finishers had to forage for food and drink water from neighborhood garden hoses on course. Aid stations didn't exist back then and no one knew about Precision Hydration. The gravel cycling scene is absolutely exploding and part of that is because it tugs at that primal desire to test ourselves and see how we handle ourselves when things don't go exactly according to plan. If you're running a marathon, the question isn't so much WILL your legs start to hurt, it's WHEN will they and HOW do you handle it when they do? Things will get ugly at some point in your endurance sports journey. I guarantee it!


Embrace Adversity

Each race—whether I am coaching or racing—is another great reminder of that for me. There is plenty of adversity to be found! Some of it can be overcome in the moment and some of it will be overcome through resetting, refocusing, and planning for the future. Regardless, we as coaches are here to support YOU, the athlete. You're the one who has to overcome of course, but we are here to cheer, support, and talk through the potential setbacks along the way.


Embrace the art of negativity and don't be surprised if and when things go sideways.


Adapt.

Overcome.

Suffer Faster.

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