Coach Tip Tuesday: The Finish Line Doesn't Change Your Life
I’m continuing the tradition of having the Thanksgiving week Coach Tip Tuesday be related to thankfulness and gratitude. However, this year it looks a little different. I’m about to make a bold statement that may shock some of you:
The finish line doesn’t change your life.
I know, I know. The finish line is almost always the most photo-worthy moment. Additionally, visualizing how amazing that specific moment of crossing the finish line will feel is what gets athletes through early mornings, hard days, tough workouts, and hunger cravings. I’ve been there myself as I trained for many goals over the years, and none more so than when I trained for IRONMAN Louisville.
This being said, I’ve been an endurance athlete for over 15 years and a coach for over 10 years. That’s been enough time for me to come to this realization and embrace this truth: The finish line is overrated. Why? Because it’s one moment in time; it doesn’t change someone or someone's life substantially.
However, the process and the journey to the finish line does change someone’s life. Athletes change their lives as they prepare to cross a finish line (literally and figuratively). That process - the training - is what helps athletes become who they are and who they want to be. A race shouldn't (and honestly, won’t) define who you are. In the scope of one’s life, it is a few hours. The road to get to a race is substantially more of one’s life, both in terms of the time and emotional commitment one invests.
For almost all athletes who do more than one 5K in their lives, endurance sports become part of who they are. While I’m certainly thankful for all of the finish lines I’ve crossed as an athlete in my endurance sports career (it’s hard to believe it, but I’ve crossed over 100 at this point!), I am much more thankful for the life that endurance sports gave me. It became a substantial part of who I am.
It gave me friends that are like family. It has enabled me to have strong, meaningful connections with people I’ve never actually met in-person (via the athletes I coach remotely). It made me - a person who literally couldn't pass the Presidential Fitness Mile in high school - realize that I was capable of more than I ever could have imagined. It has made me feel almost every emotion that humans are capable of feeling, thereby making me feel alive in one of the most fulfilling ways possible.
Finish lines have been important moments in my life, but they haven’t changed my life; the people I’ve met and the things I’ve learned about myself are what have done that. This Thanksgiving, I’m more thankful than ever that my 21 year-old self decided to go for a run; the road from there to here has changed my life.
As you prepare for the upcoming holiday season, reflect on this past year, and start to contemplate goals for the new year ahead, give thanks for the finish lines you’ve crossed. But give more thanks for the journey that brought you to those finish lines. Like it did for me, that’s likely what has actually changed your life. :)
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.