All off-road triathletes know that racing is as much a mental game as it is a physical one. When it comes to having a successful season, race, or even workout, resilience is the key component that can determine success or defeat.
I’ve taken a tumble in a large number of my off-road races, it is part of the sport. But every time I fall, I get back up to keep charging. Obstacles such as rocks, fallen trees, ditches, and everything else mother nature has to offer are part of competing in off-road races. They are there to test your resilience and show who can triumph with skill and grace. Sometimes that skill may be knowing when to get off your bike and maneuver through on foot, but the way an athlete responds to these adversities will dictate the outcome of their race.
This June I raced at the Off-Road Triathlon National Championship, vying for a spot to represent Team USA at the ITU World Championship. This race was the pinnacle of my racing career thus far and I worked tirelessly to perform well. Sitting in 6th place overall on the bike, I made an error and found myself on the ground. My watch face was shattered, I was disorientated and banged up. It took me a while to recompose and as I got back on the bike I quickly realized I had lost my breaks and fell again. At this point I thought about calling it quits. My bike wasn't functioning properly and my ego was bruised slightly more than my ribs. But these are not reasons to pull out of a race I wanted so desperately to complete. They were mere trials of my resilience and to prove I could triumph. I ended up finishing 3rd place in my Age Group and qualified for the world championship. This was not the result I was hoping for, but I never gave up.
Refusing to allow adversity to prevent me from accomplishing what needs to be done is something I practice on a regular basis, and something that can be applied to your training. How will you respond when something comes up at work that prevents you from making it to the pool for your lunch break? What about when you pull out your bike for your scheduled ride, find it has a flat, and you have no way to fix it? Life is full of obstacles and finding a way to compromise and build resilience is crucial if you want to be a successful athlete. That missed mid-day swim, do it in the evening or shorten the workout and focus on that technique your coach is always hounding you about. That unrideable bike, head to the gym and get an efficient spin in. The next time adversity rears its ugly head, think about how you can build resilience in that moment. If you continue to overcome obstacles and slowly build your reserve, you will find that even in the midst of overwhelming hardship, the resilience you constructed will be the difference between finishing and triumphing.