(An actor I know sent me this: http://www.leslimargherita.com/here-is-what-i-know and I thought a version for elite athletes was needed since both deal in absurd amounts of failure and negative feed back).
I work with a lot of talented athletes who have less experience than me and I can see the struggles they face chasing their dreams. So after a decade of pro/elite racing HERE IS WHAT I KNOW: HERE IS WHAT I KNOW: You will fail. Countless times. You may even fail so often that you have many more bad races then good ones. You will fail in spectacular ways. You will not finish races. You will finish hours behind the winners or winners of your age group. You will walk when you should be running, and drown when you should be swimming. But you won’t fail always. You will, have that day when it all goes right. Hold onto those days; drink deep from them and think about that when everything else goes wrong. Or better yet, take a few lessons quickly from the failures and don’t think about them ever again.
HERE IS WHAT I KNOW: you will struggle to make money. You will work side gigs, and survival jobs or you will live off others. It’s all good. Your chasing your dream and people want to support that. Let them, and thank them. Take that spare room or guest house. Take that meal, that home stay and that ride to/from the airport. And thank them. Dream chasers who chase something this brutal like extreme endurance sports give back (if they aren’t jerks) and inspire. People will train more, eat better, live more fuller just because you are around and because they know you. They will tell there friends about how they know you when you have that break through race and how you kicked their ass that time you slept on their sofa for a week. Thank them, be humble and grateful because you are basically a sports-hobo. Don’t be a jerk but don’t stress money. Money isn’t that important.
HERE IS WHAT I KNOW: you love this. You want this. It’s simply too hard to get up day after day and train 20-40 hours a week. If you love this, don’t give up on it. Try to remind yourself you love this when you don’t love this. But love this. Every second you can love this. You are struggling to do this so make sure you remember to love it.
HERE IS WHAT I KNOW: be ok inside your head. You will be too tired, too alone, and filled with too much doubt to not have your head strewed on straight. Your mind will likely end your career and chasing of goals long before your body will.
HERE IS WHAT I KNOW: you likely don’t know your talent. Sadly there is no way for most of us to know until you spend 5 years crushing yourself to get to 99 percent of your best. Don’t worry about raw talent, you can’t control it. Try to avoid expectations, that’s artificial: you don’t know what to expect because you don’t know you talent. If you under estimate yourself you will hold yourself back. If you over estimate yourself you will be frustrated and unfulfilled; either way you lose. Focus on what you love: the process of swimming, cycling and (or- if you like ORC or running only) running. Start each race with only one goal: to race yourself into pure annihilation.
HERE IS WHAT I KNOW: you can’t control others. My best race of my life I took 12th. I am damn proud of that race. I couldn’t control that 11 guys did better. Good for them. You can’t control if someone is better, or dopes, or fires perfectly on race day. All you can do is race your best. Celebrate yourself for that.
HERE IS WHAT I KNOW: don’t hold your self worth by sponsors. They come and go. They change staff and cut you out. They change directions and cut you out. They fail and are broke and cut you out. Develop nice relationships with them; treat them well. That’s your job. But none of that is personal. I look back and am thankful for the ones that supported me for the years they did, not the years they didn’t. Don’t define yourself by how many logos you see on your kit when you look at yourself in the mirror. Define yourself in that moment of true honestly when you look yourself in the mirror after the race, when on one else is around and it’s just you, alone, about to shower the sweat (mud and blood) and tears away because all of this is for that.