Have you ever had a moment when you start a workout off super hard and then as time goes by you start to feel like you are dying a slow and painful death, but then as soon as you see someone walk by, you start getting energy again? That is what it's like when you compete with the best.
Many of our athletes are starting off with a bang and have had some huge personal best times. This is great right?
On the contrary! *insert British Accent*
For some athletes, this can cause them to doubt. I had one of my athletes say to me that they were afraid that they were peaking too fast. She ran a personal best in her first race of the year and thought she would not be able to continue to upward trend. While this doubt was a normal thing to feel, I was still shocked. After a moment of thought, I realized that she is experiencing what it means to compete from the top. I told her that she may not run faster every race but that she should be proud of her accomplishment and look at it from a perspective of starting off strong.
I can empathize with her because when you are at the top you have something to lose, but when you are the bottom there is everything to gain. Our mind is built for negativity and sometimes we can end up being our own worst enemies to the point where we cannot enjoy our accomplishments. An athlete that had seen tremendous improvement in the weight room and in her running, thought her fast time might be a fluke.
Competing is a series of hills and valleys. We will not always have a personal best time and improve throughout our whole career. There will be times when we are winning and times when we are losing. The best athletes are able to use both their shortcomings and wins as fuel to do well in the next race.
Two races later, I receive another text that she almost beat her personal best on a hilly cross country course. Her mind was tested and she pushed past her doubt.
Doubt and fear is normal when you care about something, but it is all about the story you tell yourself. Did you do well because you work hard and train hard or did you get "lucky"? What you tell yourself can either speed you up or slow you down.
The same goes for life! Our youth athletes are learning valuable skills about mental toughness when they compete. They are facing adversity and choosing to do move forward. Being mindful during success and failure will make you great.
Enjoy your view on the peaks and embrace the climb from the valleys.