Hey green team,
As we turn the page to August on our WWMS Calendar (shout out to Katrina Ladd, master designer), we’re deep into two things: humidity, and race season. When the heat kicks up, our pace slows down--but interestingly, I’ve noticed that the inverse is true for “sense of determination regarding workouts.” Some deem this “competitiveness,” but let’s stick to the positive. :)
So as not to generalize, I’ll keep this post in the first person. When the sun shines outside my windows, a little voice pops into my head saying, “you should work out.” That’s often coupled with motivational messages on social media, such as facebook postings by fellow athletes (“Man it’s hot, but I got in my 27 mile run! Now I can eat a raisin!”), race reports, and photos of finish lines from across the globe.
Often, because of my own internal competitiveness, the nagging voice wins out. I’ll hop on the bike, or tug on my running shoes, or wander over to the pool/Mystic/Walden for a swim. I feel awesome after. I’ll take a selfie and send it to my mom, who inevitably states the obvious: “Um it’s 92 degrees and you are RUNNING?! Are you crazy?!” Me: “It was only three miles.”
Pause for a second on this.
A few weeks back, I was privileged to teach a session on Women in Academic Leadership to college presidents, deans, and executive directors from institutions across Asia. The first thing I asked them to do was to share their role. I expected, “Hi I’m <name>, and I’m the President of <institution>.” That happened the first 2-3 times. From there, the narrative changed slightly: “I’m <name>, and I was asked to be President of <institution>. I’m really not qualified, but I was the only person available.” “They just didn’t have anyone else.” “I’m only two years in, so I need to learn how to lead.” And so on.
After 10+ women shared a similar story, I stopped the class. I said to them, “Let me reflect something I’m hearing. You keep saying “only...” and “just..”. Please don’t forget that you EARNED your jobs. It’s not “just” that you happened to be there. You are brilliant, accomplished women. You weren’t handed a presidency. You earned a presidency.” The room was silent for about 10 seconds before one soft spoken women whispered, “thank you.”
As I think about these two scenarios, I realized “only” and “just” applies across boundaries. We athletes have holy grail races to celebrate--for example, Ironman, which certainly deserves to be celebrated. Finishing this race is a feat accomplishable by a very small number of humans. To those who crossed those finish lines this summer: you are rock stars, and we commend you for that tremendous amount of work.
That said, our ability to meet goals for smaller, shorter races should not be diminished. As illustrated by the women in class, their sense was that they were “just” available--somehow, their accomplishment didn’t count. Their training didn’t count. Their work, their dedication, their sacrifices didn’t count. So to all those WWMS teammates who sometimes feel what I feel: “only” three miles is still three miles. “Just” a Sprint, or an Olympic, is a heck of a lot when you stand on the other side of the classroom. I never finish in the top three, and I likely never will. People who run without shoes and bike in their sneakers instead of bike cleats still beat me. But you know what?
So in the end, remember: your training matters, and more importantly, your dedication to training for three distinct sports matters. It’s never “only” or “just.” It’s a triathlon. And no matter how many miles you swim, bike, or run: you deserve the kudos.
Train well, and #gogreen!