I am surrounded by athletes every day. All levels, all sizes, all kinds of goals, dreams and aspirations. They continually amaze me and drive me crazy. I include myself in that, as we all fall prey to factors that may or not be within our control. Time, stress, commitment and responsibility, injury and frustration. There is always something, if you listen close enough, that can convince you to stop or change course or quit.
Recently, in my coaching of marathon athletes, I have battled the war of attrition. Starting a group with 100+ athletes, and finishing with less than 50. Those voices, over the course of hundreds and hundreds of miles can get pretty loud. Support, education, and fig newtons can take you so far – the rest is a battle between you and your head.
Diana Nyad first attempted her record breaking swim from Cuba to Key West (110 miles through shark and jelly fish infested waters) 35 years ago. 35 years ago she failed, and last month she finished. Through multiple attempts and 35 years, she kept her competitive spirit alive, dreaming about the day she would walk onto the beach in Florida. At 64 years old and after 53 hours of swimming, her dream became a reality. She became the first human to ever officially swim the channel. She had a mantra, “find a way”. Simple, right?
For my runners, athletes, friends: Next time you face a challenge bigger than you think you can handle, next time you are frustrated because you aren’t making the progress as fast as you wanted, and the next time you find yourself willing to give up on a dream – remember this 64-year-old woman, 35 years after her initial attempt. Remember those simple words said through lips swollen from jelly fish stings, “find a way”. We have become accustomed to instant gratification and much of that is great. However, sometimes the really sweet stuff in life is absolutely worth the fight, the years and the sacrifice. When you’re questioning your next move, find a way…