So, I think I am a pretty good coach. I am able to get my athletes out of their heads – get all the negative and unnecessary thoughts out. When they have a bad run, I am able to get them to see that it was just one bad run – one bad day in training…everyone has them.
While I was swimming the other day, I had this same realization. However, it was after about 200 meters of me berating myself for sucking, and panicking because I have a triathlon in less than a month and suddenly couldn’t swim.
After the first couple laps, I couldn’t catch my breath, my stroke felt off and I was exhausted from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. Instead of objectively evaluating what was happening (I hadn’t eaten anything before heading out the door, I had run 12 miles the day before and tweaked my knee, I stayed up too late the night before) I went to the “I suck” world inside my head. I finally stopped swimming after about 400 meters of castigating myself and just stood there looking at the glassy water that is usually so calming and peaceful in front of me – it was in the stopping that my mind finally quieted down and I was able to hear the coach inside my head say, “It is just one day – it is just one bad swim.”
Funny, after shutting up my inner critic, I was able to catch my breath, my strokes felt smoother and the last 400 meters of my swim felt pretty fantastic.
Bad days happen all the time, whether we are athletes or not, and sometimes we just have to honor those shitty moments for what they are, moments and not lifetimes.