Crawl before you quit!
When you’re in labor, there’s no easy button or option to throw in the towel and say “I quit”. Imagine?! There’s really no choice, that baby is coming out one way or another!
Now with sport, we have choices. There is the option to throw in the towel and call it quits. And as someone who has done that before, it feels really shitty.
In 2005 at the World Long Distance Triathlon Championships (before I had kids), I made the choice to quit. I’d like to say it was because I hit the wall (which in endurance sports means you experience sudden fatigue and loss of energy caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in your body), BUT I feel confident that it was more mental than physical.
For years after my big DNF (Did Not Finish) at this event, I blamed my performance on circumstance...poor nutrition leading into the race as I suffered from sport-induced bulimia, losing some of my nutrition (gels) between the swim finish and bike start, eating only 1/2 banana on the 120km bike course and giving away 2 of my sodium tablets to another athlete...the list goes on.
And while all of that would does contribute to hitting the wall, I had raced for years before on nearly nothing and still performed - not that I support that in the least! It’s just a point around the fact that I think I could have pushed forward had I really wanted to. But I didn’t.
I think the reason I quit was because my ego had been hit. Because of the circumstances I listed above, I was forced to slow down in my race performance. I couldn’t go as fast as I had in training and it was a huge hit to my ego. It felt embarrassing really.
So I threw in the towel at the 10km mark of the 30km run.
A true competitor and strong athlete would have pushed forward despite their impacted performance. They would have walked or crawled to that finish line if they had to. I didn’t, nor did I have the internal drive to want to do that, so right there I knew something was “off” with me.
I not only quit during the race, but I quit the sport entirely after that race (never wanting to do another triathlon again).
I became quite depressed after, unsure of who I was or what I was capable of. Where had my inner fire gone? I felt lost without it. My doc at the time gave me anti-depressant pills that I refused to take as I knew I was in a funk and just needed to go through the emotions of anger, sadness, guilt, etc.
And I was actually “saved” by my education. I was in university taking courses on sports nutrition and sports psychology, and it really couldn’t have been better timing!! Learning all the tools I could lean on as an athlete, and later on as a coach, not only got me out of my funk, but it also pulled me away from my bulimic tendencies in this sport.
I am that person who believes all things happen for a reason, and as terrible as all of this was, I needed to go through it to learn a lesson that I now apply to all areas of my life.
Unless my health is at risk, quitting is NOT an option! I am comfortable with discomfort, and I actually crave it as sick as that is lol.
Since Worlds I have not quit. Yes I’ve had slow performances, but none where I’ve quit. I’m proud of that and am so inspired by others who push forward when things get tough or mentally hard. I carried this into my rowing career too and it helped me enormously!
There are some epic races where you see athletes crawl to the finish line. THAT is will, that is drive, that is phenomenal mental strength.
So think twice before you consider quitting. Pain (discomfort as I prefer it) is temporary, but quitting truly lasts forever.
I’ll leave you with this inspiring video :)
Until next time,