Posted On:
Tuesday, September 10, 2019
Updated On:
Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Coach Tip Tuesday: Adversity is a Certainty

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A group of us standing in the rain at the 2015 Corporate Triathlon (Presented by The Right Fit MultiSports).  I am on the left, wearing a yellow poncho and giving directions to a crew of volunteers.  My left foot is in an orthopedic boot, as my left foot was broken at the time.  The rest of the group is standing with hoods on listening to the directions.  There are bikes visible in the background on transition racks, the ground is very wet, and it is still raining.

As the racing season is winding down here in North America, I’ve been reflecting a lot on this year, and on all the years that came before it.  I’ve observed over the years that I end up handing out a lot of the “same” advice to athletes as they approach their goal races, but none perhaps more than this: “Embrace adversity.”

Don’t Fear Adversity

What do I mean by “Embrace adversity”?  Well, quite simply, I mean that one should not fear adversity - that is, the things that go “wrong” in workouts.  All too often, I will hear things from athletes such as: “I hope it doesn’t rain,” “I hope that I don’t get a flat tire,” “It was too windy today,” “It was so hot today,” “I wish it had been less humid,” “I’m scared of bonking,” “I am taking NSAIDs (i.e. ibuprofen) because I’m worried that I’ll be in pain,” “I don’t want the water to be choppy,” etc.  I’ve heard all of these things (and more!) SO many times from so many different athletes over the years.  And each time I hear it, all I can think is this: the thing they are worrying about, fearing, etc. is an opportunity.

Yes, that’s right.  An opportunity.  If it rains during a workout, it’s an opportunity to test out rain gear and to learn how to handle those conditions.  If it’s windy, it’s an opportunity to practice facing it (and if you’re on a bike, it’s a good way to practice handling the bike).  If the athlete is fearing experiencing discomfort or pain, it’s an opportunity for them to learn that they can actually become comfortable with uncomfortable and to see that they are mentally and physically stronger than they give themselves credit for.  If an athlete is fearful of any water condition that is less than “smooth as glass,” then practicing swimming in open water on windy days in a safe location (such as close to shore) is a great way to teach oneself how to handle those conditions and to learn that you CAN swim in those conditions and make it out of the water at the end.

I can’t say this enough: Don’t go through training wishing for things to be as easy as possible or fearing the hard days.  Instead, trust you, your process, and do this instead: wish for (and work to earn) the strength to overcome the things that you would otherwise be dreading or fearing.  Adversity is a certainty, both in training and racing.  There will always be something that you encounter that is “less-than-ideal.”  If you train for it, you will be SO much better prepared to handle it if it comes your way on race day.

The Bottom Line

So this week, my challenge to all of you is this: Go through your entire week of workouts without complaining about the conditions or without fearing them.  Instead, look at the adversity that you are facing with a different lens, and look at it as an opportunity for you to learn more about yourself as an athlete and what you are truly capable of.  You may just realize how badass you really are.  Wouldn’t that be something?


Coach Laura Henry

Laura Henry is a Syracuse, NY-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Long Course and Level II Paratriathlon Certified Coach, USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, VFS Certified Bike Fitter, and has successfully completed NASM's Certified Personal Trainer course. Coach Laura is passionate about helping athletes of all ability levels reach their goals and has coached many athletes to success.

She can be reached at

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