This is something that has been on my mind for a couple of weekends. This post is meant to challenge my way of thinking and a bit of therapy for why I’ve let some things bother me or get to me lately. After writing the first draft of this post I shared it with an OCR (obstacle course racer) friend for his perspective, then I saw another OCR friend’s status on Facebook and then I saw an image another social media friend posted that put everything into perspective. So here is the original post plus additional perspective.
I am an obstacle course racer. I’m not fast and I’m not slow. But then again speed is all relative to those around you. In the past three races that I’ve run, I have registered in the first wave of the morning which is otherwise known as the “elite heat”. One of my mind shortcomings is that I still don’t consider myself an elite even though I can hold my own against the other females in those waves. After re-reading this several times over the past weekend I realize that I hate my inner critic. My inner critic has been telling me I don’t belong there and I’m believing it. Until Now. One of my goals moving forward from here is to believe I am an elite athlete and to stop the negative self-doubt.
Ok back to the post… I’ve been thinking about why I train, travel and race with elites? I know I choose to surround myself with the best because they motivate and inspire me to be better than I was yesterday. I train with elite racers but I also train with beginners, weekend warriors, former competitive high school & college/university athletes, those who put in the effort and fight hard and at times those who are just starting on their fitness journey. I’ve seen all kinds of individuals and interacted with all sorts of athletes over the past two years being involved in the fitness industry and while taking on the racing world. I’ve been around Crossfit athletes, Obstacle Course Racers, Marathon Runners & Trail Racers. I surround myself with like-minded individuals and I travel to and from obstacle course races with passionate individuals. I participate in run clubs and socialize with speedsters at road races. I spend a lot of time in the gym and have frequented Crossfit boxes. So when I think of elites I’m covering a broad variety of sports. Everyone that has come across my path has been there to build me up or to teach me a lesson. I’ve been around a couple of frustrating situations lately (I’m just going to focus on one example) and I just honestly needed to pinpoint my thought process. I am going to attempt my best to write objectively. I am attempting to be critical of the situation but also of how I interpret things. Here is simply my perspective…
At Dead End Race, I placed 20th in the female category of the elite heat in a field of 33 women. After anticipating having to walk most of the course due to Achilles tendinitis & a sprained ankle from the race the weekend before I figured the pain in my ankles would be too much for me. I finished the race smiling and strong. On top of that excitement three of my travelling companions placed on the podium and we celebrated and cheered for this huge accomplishment. As a family of athletes, we had big accomplishments and little ones. I was beyond proud of my OCR family for their amazing accomplishments and it’s inspiring to see their joy.
Moment of Frustration: later that day a gut-wrenching comment came my way. One of my teammates said, “Way to podium”. This wasn’t one of my teammates who had actually placed top three so I was a bit confused about why this comment was made. The last time I checked I was nowhere near the podium. Do I want to get there someday? Sure. Of course! However, I viewed this comment as taunting me about how I didn’t place. If I was a less sensitive individual would this comment actually motivate me to get there? Maybe. From talking to guys this could be a way to goad me to want to get better. I’m simply not motivated that way and I know that someone else could be. I’m an athlete and I’m striving for better always. When I’m reminded I’m not a podium contender yet my gut gets punched and I get discouraged. Cue inner self-critic doubt. So that part is on me.
If I focus simply on being sensitive and how I perceived the comment then I think I can wrap my head around the issue. Does someone need to cater to my sensitivity? Not necessarily. I’ve just discovered that my inner critic is mean. So one, I’m dealing with negative self-doubt about my place in the elite lineup. However, in a training family that is built upon a supportive nature then yes I think we should always be wary of our comments and how they can be perceived. Some athletes deal well with military-style pressure and others are built up by motivational and inspirational and positive support. I fall into the latter category. It has made me think about how I interact with others. I hope that I’ve never made someone feel inadequate. As I get stronger and faster I hope to remember how I feel in these moments so that I can be sensitive to others around me and always keep that empathy.
I travel & race with people that I train with. I go to gyms and meet up with friends at road races that I’ve connected with in person or through social media. It is my responsibility to surround myself with people who are going to lift me higher. It is my responsibility to surround myself with those that inspire me and support me.
Do we need to be mindful of how we speak to everyone no matter where they are in their fitness journey?
Here is the quote that I saw on Facebook (thank you Michael Ma for your perspective) after writing the first draft of this post:
“The unlucky are nothing more than a frame of reference for the lucky. You are unlucky, so I may know that I am not. Unfortunately the lucky never realize they are lucky until it’s too late. Take yourself for instance; yesterday you were better off than you are off today but it took today for you to realize it. But today has arrived and it’s too late. Do you see? People are never happy with what they have. They want what they had, or what someone else has.” – Lucky Number Slevin
So today I celebrate my achievements at this moment. Today I choose to strive for better. To become a better elite Obstacle Course Racer with positive words of uplift for myself & others. Today I choose to kick my inner self-critic out of the door and to strengthen my thicker skin to outside comments. But I’m thankful that I’m put in these situations to reflect and learn.