Let Yourself Grieve
We tend to think that the feeling of grief is purely tied to losing a person, but there are a lot of aspects of life that are best approached with a mindset of grief. When an athlete does not finish a race, they are not only mourning the loss of crossing the finish line, but also dealing with the lost time that went into training. Lifelong Endurance head coach Andrew Simmons explains, “Grieving with Grace and Forgiveness – so many of our biggest critiques and judgments come from between our two ears. Our internal dialogue is what will ultimately allow us to heal and move on. Moving forward requires that you allow yourself room to grow which includes room to fail. If you’re innovating, pushing yourself, and trying to grow – failure is an inherent part of the process. Forgive yourself for what you got wrong and give yourself the grace to give it time to fade. The pain of loss doesn’t dissipate over night. Do yourself a favor and talk about it, with people you trust, shed a few tears, be mad, and then start doing something to change the next result. Tough times don’t last, tough people do.”
Personally, in my own DNF at the Grand Traverse Ski Race, I had the added guilt of causing my race partner, a person I deeply respected, to DNF as well. This took me a long time to mentally recover from, as there was a array of negative emotions that I had to navigate. This took time and acceptance. Often, the athlete who drops from a race feels as though they have to “put on a brave face,” and push pass their emotions in order to seem supportive to their fellow competitors. While it is important to remain gracious and a “good sport,” it is also important to remember that your emotions are valid and deserve recognition.
Take time to let yourself feel ALL of your emotions. Be kind to yourself, treat yourself the same way you would have had you finished the race under your goal time. You were successful in training and made smart decisions during the race. Do not pull away from negative emotions, but rather acknowledge them, put a name and reason to them, and move past them rather than allowing yourself to drown in regret.