Posted On:
Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Updated On:
Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Coach Tip Tuesday: Get Out of Your Own Way

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A photo of an arbored path. The path and arbor are blurred into the background, but clear as day in the foreground are two black and yellow barriers blocking the path.

Believe it or not, it’s already the first of June and already time for another Coach Tip Tuesday.

Each week, I have DOZENS of conversations with athletes about their training, their lives, and their goals.  During those conversations, I often have to gently nudge or help encourage athletes to go down a path that will help them get to where they want to go.  Other times, I need to help athletes see what obstacles might be in their way.  And more often than not, the biggest obstacle they face is actually themselves.

So, this week, my tip is this: Get out of your own way.

Pause and think about this for more than five seconds, and you will realize that it’s true.  YOU are your biggest obstacle to getting to where you want to go.  How many times have you looked for an excuse not to do a workout?  How many times have you said the words “I can’t” when the truth really started with the words “I won’t”?  How many times has the journey toward your end point not been as glamorous as you imagined when you set the goal?

All of us can come up with sixteen different reasons why we can’t do something.  But 98% of the time, the truth of the matter is this: We don’t WANT to do it.  And yet, we lie to ourselves (not to mention other people we talk to about this - to include family, friends, coaches, and support crews) - by using language that is “softer” and “more digestible.”  Because truly...it sounds a lot better when we blame some external source (the weather, our schedules, our bosses, our work situation, etc.) for why we’re not doing something, doesn’t it?  It sounds a lot better than saying, “I am the person responsible for all of my own actions and choices and I am choosing to not do something I once said I wanted to do.”

With athletes, this manifests in many, many different ways.  I’ve heard infinite variations over the years, to include (but not limited to):

  • “Life got in the way.”
  • “Work is too busy right now.”
  • “My kids have too much going on.”
  • “The weather wasn’t nice.”
  • “My day got away from me.”

Now, hear me when I say that there are VERY legitimate things that might pop up and be actual barriers from time to time.  But the day-to-day things that happen in our lives (work, kids, family, etc.) are NOT unexpected, surprise barriers.  Those are all things that we can learn to plan with to reach our goals, even if it takes a little thought and creativity.  Doing so might involve doing things differently than we’ve done them before, but as you are all likely well aware: In order to get somewhere you’ve never been, you have to be willing to do things you’ve never done before.

But here’s the good news: Even though you ARE your biggest obstacle, you are also your biggest asset to getting to where you want to go.  YOU are the secret sauce, and YOU have the power to make your dreams come true.  Yes, YOU.  Don’t give this amazing power away by blaming external sources for what is going on in YOUR life.

This week, I encourage you to shed a victim mindset and adopt an empowered mindset.  Instead of seeing (and talking about) obstacles, see (and talk about) opportunities.  Find a reason to do the things you need to do so you can get to where you want to go.  Seek out what you can learn from each workout and each experience.  Know that you CAN do them; you have the ability to give your best effort, each and every day.  

This being said: if you legitimately encounter something that you don’t WANT to do, say that.  Don’t say that you’re not doing it for any other reason.  Be truthful with yourself, my friends.  It’s cliché, but the truth will set you free.  By being truthful with yourself (even if it’s hard), you will chart a path toward your goals that is easier and will likely take less time to navigate.

Get out of your own way. Do this, and you may very well end up where you want to go. :)

About

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 laura@fullcircleendurance.com.

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