This morning I woke up to an email from a client with a story written by Meb Keflezighi.  His words are an amazing arrangement of prose, motivation and rewarding truth:   The Finish Line.  

As a coach, I like to share these things with athletes because it offers us a glimpse into the minds of an elite athlete.  And what do we learn?  They are just like us.  They have good days.  They have bad days.  They want to quit races.  They hate races.  They love races.  They hate them.  They love them.  But each day they wake up and put one foot in front of the other (presumably after putting on shorts, one leg at a time).

One of the things that athletes sometimes fail to understand in our relationship is that at the end of the day, I really don’t care about your time or ranking in a race.  I care most about EXECUTION.  Did you execute according to the plan?  Was the plan written in accordance with how we trained?  The latter is nearly always yes, but the former is where things break down.  I want to know if you gave it 100% out there.  If you give it 100% and come up short of a time goal then there is nothing to second guess.  If you give it 99% and come up short, then you will spend time looking over your shoulder after the race wondering what if.   

Meb recounts the story of a bad race in the article.  He shares his inner thoughts (humility) about nearly getting picked up by the sweep vehicle.  He talks about changing his mindset.  And he tells the story of finding strength with a new friend on the course at a difficult time.   Sound familiar?  We have all been there before. 

And then he says this:

As I prepare to run in my tenth New York City marathon this Sunday, I’m not sure what this next race holds for me. The biggest common denominator between this marathon and the very first one I ran is that I am going to run to win. I always do. To me, “running to win” doesn’t mean getting first place, it means getting the best out of yourself. That’s how I train and that’s what I expect.

I encourage you to apply the same thinking to your races.  YOU CAN WIN every race you start.  Tell yourself that on the start line (I do.)  Winning isn’t about first place.  Winning isn’t about a podium finish.  Winning is about the race with yourself.  99% of us will never go onto great things in  sport.  But 100% of us have the opportunity to line up with our competitors and ourselves to see what we can do.  Don’t look back at what you could have done.  Gaze forward and focus on what YOU can do.  Go be the best YOU on race day and shut out all the noise.