It surely has been an unprecedented year; a year when most athletes raced virtually or not at all. On a global scale, peoples’ bodies, minds, hearts, souls, and spirits were taxed with stressors that far outweighed most competition-related decisions. Mental and emotional stamina and endurance were (and continue to be) tested in new ways, but training became more important than ever, even without a finish line in sight.
Athletes have a strong skill set of mental awareness that can be used to focus on having an “attitude of gratitude” in all circumstances. Don’t worry if you have already set your mind to giving up on 2020 and are anxious to flip the calendar; this is a shift you can add to your mental toolbox to make 2021 and beyond your most satisfying years of racing. There is still time to reflect and change your perspective to learn from a year of training that has been full of opportunity!
Thankful for Each Other
There is so much room for gratitude surrounding our running, biking, swimming, and multi-sport communities; globally and locally. There have been opportunities for connection, purpose, learning, and service—even just virtually. Small businesses have been supported, and athletes have been able to maintain some levels of community through the camaraderie of sport. Athletes and coaches have encouraged and supported each other in new ways, on many levels.
A practice of daily training (even without racing) also has a multitude of physical and mental benefits. The slightly more obvious ones include stress relief, endorphin release, and an overall stronger, healthier body. But mental and emotionally, we’ve also benefitted from a sense of routine and purpose. Training has been the one certain circumstance when all others feel unsure, and that’s another thing to be grateful for.
How to Practice Gratitude
Having a habit of being grateful not only benefits your training and racing experience, but it leads to a more content and peaceful life. Here are few tips on how you can practice having a more thankful mind and heart, in all situations:
See the Big Picture
Every thought counts. Use your mental awareness, training and fitness to focus on your thoughts. When you experience negativity, don’t dismiss it. Bring it to the front of your mind, consider it, and practice accepting it while replacing it with a more positive outlook. Gain some perspective on your circumstances.
Keep Track of Your Thoughts
Use outside tools like journals or apps to keep track of your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. You could even write a thank you note to your sport or to other areas of needed gratitude.
Learn and Grow
Take more opportunities to learn and grow. Enjoy and appreciate the entire process, not only the hopeful or expected outcome.
Stay connected in new and unique ways. Encourage your racing community to safely gather and serve others. Inspire others to get into endurance athletics right now, rather than waiting for more certain race outlooks.
The habit and practice of endurance training has been good to athletes, even in a time of uncertain start and finish lines. Be intentionally grateful for your training and practice finding and owning a healthy perspective. When it is time to race again you will be armed with the ability to see the good in your sport, in others, in yourself, and in your circumstances.