Contrary to popular belief, I don’t just read about triathlon. I came across this article in Forbes written by Vanessa Loder… but naturally, I related it back to triathlon. She discusses ways to overcome your fear of failure. Here’s my spin on it.
Re-frame your goals:
As triathletes, it’s our natural instinct to want to finish at the top of our age group, push more watts, and PR at every race. We have these outcome-based goals signified by a quantitative metric. What happens if you don’t hit the pace or place? Is it a wasted race? Absolutely not. Or…. If you toe the line with one or more non-outcome related goals then you are setting yourself up to view the race as a success even if you don’t finish on the podium. The non-outcome related goals can be as simple as drinking 1 bottle of sports drink each hour on the bike or passing at least 4 people on the run. You’ve now achieved goals that are going to set you up for success in future races and that’s a win.
Everyone expects the perfect race, as nice as that is, it’s not always the reality. Things go wrong, which is why it is important to practice less than ideal situations. If you’ve ever watched World Championship broadcasts you see athletes overcome obstacles and you see athletes succumb to them, even the pros. In 2005, Normann Stadler flatted, picked up his bike and smashed it into the road in frustration. The scene has appeared in almost every Kona broadcast since then, talk about reliving the moment. He couldn’t handle the obstacle he was presented with and it destroyed his race. On the other hand, you see Jan Frodeno get a flat in 2014. He stops, maintains his composure, changes the flat and still finishes 3rd overall. Preparing yourself for the unknown can literally make or break your race.
Uncover your story:
The great majority of people have some elaborate story as to why a race didn’t go well. “The wind was too strong.” “I started too fast.” “I cramped the entire race.” You can only control what you can control. Don’t make excuses, take ownership over what failed, learn from it, and work to fix it.
Asking three powerful questions
There’s an immediate disappointment that comes from failure. That failure can be crippling for an extended period of time if you allow the disappointment to linger. Instead, ask yourself a few questions. What did I learn from this race? How can I grow as an athlete from this race? What are three positive things about the race? Arming yourself with the answer to these three questions is only going to make you more prepared for the next competition.
Surrender and feel the fear:
Personally, I love this one. The anticipation of the unknown is a part of this sport’s appeal. Fear creates that addicting adrenaline rush at the beginning of the race. The way you utilize the fear is 100% a conscious decision. It’s an insanely powerful emotion that leaves you with two choices. Let it cripple you. Or let it lift you up. The choice is ALWAYS yours.