Coach Tip Tuesday: Willingness to Wait

Posted On:
Tuesday, December 14, 2021
Updated On:
Tuesday, July 18, 2023
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A photo from the film Forrest Gump. Forrest is waiting on a bench to see Jenny - a great example of patience. :)

Hip, hip, hooray! It’s Coach Tip Tuesday!

As we approach the end of the year, we are firmly in the midst of “Dreaming Season” - that time of the year when we are brainstorming goals for the coming year(s). As you reflect on 2021 and look forward to 2022, I offer this week’s tip as something to consider as you decide which goals seem exciting for you to take on next:

Your willingness to wait reveals the value you place on the object you’re waiting for.

Endurance sports are so named because one must endure to be successful in these sports. The word “endure” literally means “to continue to exist in the same condition,” “to experience (pain or suffering) for a long time,” and “to deal with to accept (something unpleasant).” Basically, “endure” means to exercise patience - to understand that a desired result will take a longer time to come about.

The most rewarding things in life are not easy.  They don’t happen quickly or overnight.  This is also true of endurance sports goals; the goals that are the most fulfilling are the ones that are the result of a longer period of time and a larger body of work.

Bear this in mind as you consider goals for 2022.  Is there a longer-term “unicorn goal” that you would like to achieve someday?  Even if it’s not probable that you can/will attain it in 2022, are there “stepping stone goals” that you can set in 2022 to help you along the way?

A “unicorn goal” - a term for goals that are currently off in Fantasyland - is not an “impossible for forever” goal.  It just means it’s not possible right now...which means that you’ll need to exercise patience if you want to ultimately see it through.  If you accept this and are willing to take the small steps along the way to lead you closer to achieving a unicorn goal, then the goal is likely one that is valuable to you, resonates with you, and is worth targeting over time.

Some common unicorn goals for age group athletes:

  • Finishing a marathon
  • Finishing an IRONMAN
  • Qualifying for the Boston Marathon
  • Breaking two hours in a half marathon
  • Breaking 25 minutes in a 5K
  • Breaking three hours on the bike course of a 70.3-distance triathlon

Even if you think that you are willing to be patient to see your big goals through, it’s important to establish “check-in” points along the way.  This helps you to continue to be willing to exercise patience and it keeps you motivated along the way.  Consider setting intermediate goals that will give you a true sense of exactly where you are relative to where you want to go.

Some examples of intermediate goals for age group athletes (using the unicorn goal example list from above):

  • Shorter distance races of the same type (i.e. a 10K or a half marathon when targeting a marathon)
  • A few races of the same distance and type when going for a performance-based result (such as qualifying for the Boston Marathon or breaking a certain time for a given distance)

In the context of 2022: Consider planning out your season with some shorter-term goals that you can achieve (or at least have a higher probability of achieving) in 2022 and also include some stepping stones to BIG goals that take a longer time to accomplish.

As I’ve talked about in the past, time is life’s most valuable currency because life is a zero-based budget.  Being willing to be patient - which is a fancy way of saying “being willing to spend a lot of time waiting” - is the equivalent of assessing a high monetary price/value to a tangible object.  If you are willing to be patient as you pursue a particular goal, then that indicates you value it.  If you aren’t willing to be patient, then perhaps a different endurance sports goal might resonate better with you now.

Bearing all of this in mind as you chart your 2022 season can help you embark on a joyful, engaged season where you enjoy what you’re doing and the process it will take to get where you want to go. And isn’t that what we’re all actually ultimately after? :)


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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