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How to stay resilient when goals have to be adjusted

As much as we would like to have our training and racing be filled with perfect days and PRs with no setbacks or obstacles standing in our way, we all know that sometimes life has other plans. At some point there will come a time when we need to adjust a goal. Whether it's adjusting a day of training because we got called into work, adjusting our goals for a season because of illness or injury, or adjusting a goal mid-race because of a mechanical, it can be challenging to accept the change and take the detour. Here are some tips on how to maintain motivation and confidence when things don't go exactly as planned.

Adjusting goals for the season

Getting injured

When we're dealing with an injury, the energy and effort we were putting into training needs to shift to recovering from the injury. We will feel anger, frustration, and disappointment, but once we accept being injured, we can see it as an opportunity. What can you do that you wouldn't have been able to if you were still training? I've seen athletes come back from an injury both mentally and physically stronger because they seized the opportunity.

Change in priorities

There will be times when something else in life requires more of our attention. An increase in workload or a shift in responsibilities may require taking time and energy away from training. Backing off training is sometimes a harder adjustment than stopping altogether. When faced with a necessary change in priorities, we need to stop comparing ourselves to others, stay focused on our own goals, and know that we will eventually be able to tip the scale back to our sport again.

Adjusting a goal mid race

Unexpected changes in conditions

When race day comes, we have to be ready to embrace what comes with it. We have to accept that whatever the universe throws at us that day is meant to be a part of our race experience. It helps to be prepared for any potential conditions that may arise, and it also helps to tell ourselves that we are ready and can handle whatever race day brings. The adjustment here is to embrace the change.

Goals weren’t realistic

Occasionally, even though we trained like pros and thought we were prepared going into a race, there are times when we realize the race goal we had in mind isn’t going to happen (i.e., there was more climbing than expected, you weren't prepared for the change in weather conditions, you had stomach issues, you had cramping issues, you experienced a mechanical, etc.). When faced with having to adjust our goals mid race, it's difficult to change our original expectations. Adapting and adjusting quickly is a sign of mental fitness.

Resilience is part of being a mentally strong athlete. Being resilient doesn't mean we won't feel heartbroken and devastated at having to adjust, but it does mean we understand it's all part of being an athlete. We feel disappointed, and then we pick ourselves back up and say, "Okay, what's Plan B?" Overcoming setbacks will always be part of the journey. If it were easy, it wouldn't feel as good to accomplish the goal. The challenges are part of the reward of being an athlete. And every once in a while, the detour ends up being the better way to go. As I like to say, sometimes Plan B should have been Plan A all along!


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