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Overcoming Adversity

March 06, 2017 - One of those topics not discussed enough is facing mental adversities as an athlete. Nothing impacts us more than the state of our mental health, sporting abilities included. Athletes are humans at the end of the day, with challenges and daily struggles. Learning how to face any obstacles in a healthy way will make the difference between an athlete and a successful athlete.

Don't Play the Blame Game

Performances will vary over the years for every athlete. Sometimes we might feel the outcome might have been different if the weather would have been better, if we had a better coach, if we ate certain foods or trained in a different way. In the end we have to accept the reality. Good or bad, we are exactly where we have to be. This is very difficult to accept and only a mature athlete can truly understand it.

We are the result of our actions, thus coming first in a triathlon with minimal training never happens. There are things we can control (training, nutrition, resting, personal life etc.) and things we can`t control (weather, lack of fair play, crowds etc.).

Focusing on things we cannot control is not only a waste of time and energy but it can often lead us to a bad state of mind in which negativity and blame game take over. It is difficult to train with such negative thoughts. One easy exercise athletes can do is thinking and verbalizing what they are. I am an athlete. I will overcome this challenge. I will go forward no matter what happens. This pain I feel will go away.

Learn to anticipate problems

This is a true test of virtue for any athlete. Instead of being surprised by possible problems you need to start anticipating them. Here are some questions we need to ask ourselves:

  • What can happen if I train this way for a month?

  • What can go wrong in the cycling stage of the competition?

  • What impact would my personal life have on my career should anything go wrong?

  • What results I`m expecting from this particular diet change?

These are some questions we need to ask ourselves and keep exercising them until we can see our problems before they even take place. Don`t become a victim of discouragement and learn to face the facts: problems will arise and issues will come after you.

Things will never be perfect. Your training, diet, resting time and family time will never be in perfect harmony. Problems will sometimes come in one or more of these areas at the same time. By learning how to anticipate them you will also learn how to avoid them or overcome them better.

Encourage others

Getting involved in the community is not just a slogan. Giving back is not just something we do on holidays. Some of the most inspiring and motivating situations in life come from giving back. Before you ask what you can give back think about what you received in your career. Maybe it was a good advice when you needed it, maybe it was an encouragement from your significant other or maybe it was a form of financial help. Whatever it was, in that particular moment, it made the difference for you.

Those words of encouragement shattered those negative thoughts you had in a second. That financial help was exactly what kept you afloat. That coach that went the extra mile opened a real passion within you. Remember all the good things in your life and career and start contributing in any form. Maybe you can coach young talents, speak at schools, help struggling parents or contribute in financially. Buying some training gear for a young talent that would not afford it otherwise would not only help that person but yourself also.

You will feel you made a small difference. In a society that is dividing us more and more, such small contributions might help you overcome your own adversities. All of a sudden your own problems won`t feel so important. That time you wanted to reach in swimming will decrease as a pressure and increase as a motivation factor.

Believe things will work out

Having the right attitude towards your goals as an athlete will help you reach you full potential. At the very least it will be the base on which you tried to reach your true potential. Thinking good things are in your future will give you the peace of mind needed to reach something valuable. Nothing good could come from constant negative thoughts.

The results you crave will start to look further and further away as you let negativity take over your life. This is not just some positivity talk; this is a way of life. Decide early in the morning you`re going to have a good day. Decide early in the week you’re going to reach your training goals. Decide now that this will be a good year, a year of progress and real value. Positivity is a decision, not a result of meaningless or sporadic success.

What we think is what we become. If you let yourself discouraged by adversity you will never better yourself as an athlete. If you listen to the negativity of other people you will never do what you really want to do. Just because nobody has done it doesn`t mean it can`t be done. Stay focused, stay positive, don`t seek to blame others but encourage them to reach their true potential. And remember to train your brain into saying the right things: I am an athlete and I will overcome this and any other obstacle. 


Dan Chabert

Writing from Copenhagen, Denmark, Dan is an entrepreneur, husband and ultramarathon distance runner. He spends most of his time on runnerclick.com, monicashealthmag.com , janeskitchenmiracles.com & nicershoes.com and he has been featured on runner blogs all over the world.


AJ Baucco Coaching is world class triathlon coaching for age group athletes of all ability levels. We specialize in Full Service Triathlon Coaching, but we also create Focused Training Plans for athletes that like a more hands off approach. Feel free to contact us with any questions or to set up an informational phone call.

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