A few weeks ago at the Ironman Championships in Kona, Hawaii, I hit a breaking point. Not in my own running, or even in relation to anything that I’m doing, but in my tolerance of arrogant behavior in sport. I was disenchanted with what I was seeing/experiencing around me. A level of ‘better than,’ ‘one-upping,’ or simply just the lack of support/ acknowledgment of people’s achievements. To put it bluntly, it was disgusting to watch.
The positive: It lit a fire in me to DO something about it. Even at this microscopic level of things within my control. So, here’s what THAT looks like.
As an athlete with a huge looming goal, I realize that my journey is never solitary. Sure, I have to put in the miles, the blood/sweat/tears if you will. But, near and far, I have people supporting me. Whether that’s directly coaching me, cheering for me, being a shoulder to lean on when times get tough or running next to me. Or more indirectly, with all the positive vibes I get through social media platforms, or even the strangers I pass on the street that nod, smile, or say ‘good job.’ It’s the act of acknowledging my hard work and essentially giving me a big old pat on the back for a job well done.
I realize that it’s those simple acts of support that help to keep me motivated and confident. Without it, I find myself getting in my head, allowing negative thoughts and self-doubt to creep in. Therefore, it serves as a necessary distraction in the pursuit of my goals.
With that realization, it makes it VERY easy for me to return the favor to others that are striving for their goals, their ‘better.’ It is my experience that direct support is a given and easy to do. I’ve loved encouraging friends, loved ones, and teammates to set and achieve their goals. With this new perspective, I can expand this to those people I don’t know. It’s the act of encouraging the stranger I pass on the street – even with a simple nod or wave. That universal sign that says, “Hey, I see you working over there. Good on ya!”
Going forward, I will never ignore those efforts around me. Friends and stranger alike, I support you. THAT is my oath as an athlete. I vow to always acknowledge your journey. The pursuit of your dreams. And recognize them as equal to my own. We are all out here working hard to be better. So, if by nodding as I pass by, merely saying ‘good job’ on the track as we do laps past each other, take that as a sign of me saying ‘good on you!’ Get after it! Follow your dreams!