Coach Tip Tuesday: Managing Expectations - Most Days Will Be Average
It’s already time for Coach Tip Tuesday again!
You’ve all probably heard by now that I’m a big proponent of managing expectations - both in life and in sport. And the athletes who I work with will tell you that this is something that I work with them frequently on so they can maximize the “good vibes” that they are getting from their endurance training and from their leisure time spent on pursuing their goals.
This week’s tip starts with a statement, and it’s this statement that will lead to our discussion of to manage the expectations that surround it:
Most days will be average.
Yup, you read that right. Not great, not horrible. Average. By definition, all of our days cannot be in the end ranges - either amazing or terrible. Think about that. If every day was either “amazing” or “terrible”, eventually, they wouldn’t feel amazing or terrible anymore. They would start to feel normal - aka “average.”
I know what you’re thinking: “But Coach Coach Laura Henry! You tell us to aim for GREAT!” I know, I know, and you’re not wrong; I do tell people to aim for feeling great, and I do so by emphasizing the point that we don’t need to push ourselves to the “breaking point” - that point of exhaustion - in all we do. It is also important to bear in mind that “feeling great” can actually manifest many different ways - it could mean feeling physically great, mentally great, or feeling great about a piece of a workout, etc. It doesn’t always have to mean “everything in this entire scenario went/felt great.”
That being said, while we can certainly aim to feel great, I also know (and accept) that it’s not possible to feel great all the time. It’s also highly unlikely (barring some extreme, strange set of circumstances) that we will feel terrible all of the time. The law of averages tells us that we’re most frequently just going to feel, well, mediocre. Average. Normal.
Anecdotally (but with a high degree of certainty), I can tell you that a majority (i.e. greater than 50%) of how athletes feel about workouts and/or training is due to the expectations they have in their minds about how the workout and/or training “should be.” In other words, how they feel is a direct result of the expectations they have laid out for themselves.
For the athletes who have partnered with me as their endurance coach, my job is to help them frame their expectations in such a manner that they are not left constantly feeling down due to constantly clinging to the same (inaccurate) unrealized expectations.
As I’ve talked about before, happiness is a function of expectations minus reality. As it pertains to this discussion, we should aim to manage our expectations thus: We should expect that most days will feel and be average. But, just because they do feel average doesn’t mean that they’re bad. They just are average.
While things will not always feel the best, we can always aim to give our best. And sometimes (rather, most of the time), our best will actually result in, well, average. But this doesn’t mean that we didn’t give our best. It just means that we fall in line with the law of averages. :)
Managing our expectations to accept that most days will be average and embracing that average isn’t a bad thing is a very useful tool in both life and endurance training. As you embark on this next training week and as you launch into your next training block, aim to do just this - expect that most days will be average. Employ this strategy, and those great days will feel even better, and the not-so-great days won’t feel as bad. :)
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.