Are You Going to the Olympics? STOP Letting Others Ruin Your Self Esteem

“Are you going to the olympics?”

I have had that question pretty much since the day I started running. It is the ultimate accomplishment, the only way most people will think you have truly made it.

It is also the only event in the world that even non runners understand and see how important it is.

Every runner has that vision that they could someday run in the olympics.

Only we all have varying levels of how realistic that dream is….and therefore how we approach our training.

In my typical honest style, when I was in school, when people would ask me if I was going to run in the olympics, I would say,“no, I am not”, which would be followed by some kind of response like “well, not with an attitude like that you won’t”.

At the time, I had to grit my teeth and try to change the subject, if only they realized just how hard making it to the olympics was! 

I wasnt being negative, I was being realistic.

Of course I would love to be there, I would give up so much to be there….I already had given up so much in my quest to get there, but at the end of the day, you have to work with your talent level, and just focus on doing the best you can each and every day to see just how far you can go.

Tina stride

It is a hard pill to swallow, especially when you see others jumping past you in the rankings, and you wonder if you will ever get there, but at the top, everyone is working hard, and everyone is incredibly dedicated to their sport.

Olympic years bring out everyone.

If there were 100 elite runners in a country, in a typical (non olympic) year, probably 75 of those runners would be dedicating their lives to making whatever was the pinnacle race of the year (world championships, commonwealth games ect), but in an olympic year, all 100 of those people will be going for broke trying to make the team.

I am only one of that 100.

Most won’t make it, through injury of trying too hard, or just not being good enough. At the end of the day, Olympic years add another 25 people you have to be faster than to make the three two places available (that is what Great Britain and Northern Ireland ended up taking in the marathon).

Many of you probably saw Alison Leonard post a few weeks ago about missing out on the team despite having run the time. She talked about how you can feel like an “also ran” if you do not make the team.

I noticed that all the way through my running life, that when I say I am not running in the Olympics, people give me a look of pity, kind of saying there, there, maybe next time you will try harder and get there.

Sometimes, they even have the balls to say it to me.

“Why don’t you train a little harder next time?”

Ahhhhhh, don’t even get me started on that one……that is for another day

What they don’t realize is that I, along with everyone else who is going for it, is trying really effin hard, doing everything they can, sacrificing so much for even the opportunity to try.

Runners at my level know deep in their hearts, that it is not going to happen……this time at least.

Of course this year I could say I was training to try to make the Olympic team, but I knew deep down that I was not good enough, and it didn’t matter if I ran a dream race, I was not going to run a sub 2:31 marathon in 2016.

 

Even though I am excited for the Olympics, to watch this event that really displays the best in the world, it still sends a dagger of jealousy through my heart every time I see Mo on the TV, every time they mention it

I wish I was there

But for the rest of us, the rest of the elites, it is just a reminder of one thing

You are not good enough

That is what the look of pity in the non runners eyes said, and that is what we know at the bottom of our hearts.

But just because we are not good enough to be one of the 2-3 people who represent their country in the biggest sporting event in the world, does not take away from what we have done.

You are still out there every day, doing the best you can to move just a little further forward, putting in those miles each and every day, resting when you want to do more, listening to your body, and putting in the auxiliary work to stay healthy.

Strength Training

You are doing the best YOU can.

And that is all you can ask for.

I usually walk away from these conversations feeling down on myself.

Feeling like I am not good enough, that I will never be truly respected until I get to the Olympics.

Thankfully, I am surrounded by lots of wonderful people who remind me that I am enough and I have done myself and others proud, the people who matter to me proud.

I am sure many of you can understand this.

Maybe you just completed your first marathon with so much pride that you trained and ran a marathon, which is an incredible accomplishment. Qualifying for Boston is your ultimate pipeline dream, and you know you may not get there, but when others ask you if you are gonna run Boston, and you reply “no, probably not”, you will feel the same frustration I do.

Or maybe it is completely unrelated, you are trying to get a certain dream job for a dream company. You know that you are unlikely to get there, but you get an incredible opportunity to work for a HUGE company, and it is a fantastic accomplishment.

But after talking to others who do not know anything about you or your life, they say one comment, and suddenly, all that you have done, seems insignificant, and not good enough.

We need to stop this.

STOP putting ourselves down and allowing others, especially those who do not know ANYTHING about our journey, to break our spirit.

We all have ultimate dreams, those kind of dreams that seem unachievable, you know there is such a small chance you will get there, but you still work for it, day after day.

Whether it be to break 4:00 in the marathon, run in the olympic trials, or break 30:00 in the 5k, do not let anyone make you feel bad about what YOU have accomplished.

Just because you have not reached your version of the Olympics (yet), does not mean you are any less of a runner, or any less accomplished.

If you had achieved it, there would be an emptiness about you that would be almost impossible to overcome, so not having achieved it is actually a good thing, it means that you still have something that gets you out of bed in the morning, that keeps you focused and excited for the future.

I am trying to stop looking at those at the olympics, wishing I was good enough, putting myself down because I did not make the team, and tainting all that I have achieved, and neither should you.

So:

If you run your first half marathon in 3:00, but you talk to a friend who just broke 2:00, suddenly you feel like your 3:00 is not worth celebrating.

After all that hard work you put in, the pride you felt in yourself as you crossed the finish line knowing you ran 13.1 miles when a year ago you couldn’t even run one, but suddenly, you feel like that isn’t worth celebrating.

STOP.

RIGHT THERE.

On Saturday night, someone I barely know asked me I was going to the Olympics. When I said no, I saw that pity look in his eye, and I felt embarrassed, ashamed even.

This year I accomplished my number one running goal TWICE, and yet in that moment, a stranger had managed to pull that away from me and make me think that what I did was nothing.

I only ran in the European Championships and the World Half Marathon, who cares about those anyway. 

If I ran in the Olympics, represented GB in the Olympics, THEN I have made it.

But screw that.

YOU be proud of what YOU have achieved, and rest assured that as long as you are doing everything you can to get a little bit better, that is all you can ask of your body.

Tina future

And you should be proud of that.

So, what is the moral of this long ramble my friends.

Don’t let ANYONE take your accomplishments away from you (even me, if you read my paces and race recaps!). Take time to celebrate what YOU have achieved.

Once again, that comparison trap puts us in a dangerous situation.

But don’t let it.

You be you, and find your own way, not someone elses.

[bctt tweet=”STOP letting others put down your achievements. LOVE this from @tinamuir” via=”no”]

What is your ultimate dream?

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21 Comments.

  • carla birnberg
    August 1, 2016 5:30 am

    YES YES YES
    even if they arent meaning to and it’s what we are internalizing or hearing.
    WE need to stop this as well.
    <3

  • This is great advice for anyone Tina. Thanks for sharing. Your accomplishments are yours and no one elses.

  • I couldn’t care less about what you race or do not race. You are my hero. Period. I totally understand what you are saying but I just want you to know 🙂

  • Thanks for your encouragement and putting things into right place, Tina!
    My ultimate dreams are
    – getting a 3h-marathon (as with olympic dreams: probably never get there, stuck at 3:18 so far ..), and
    – dipping sub 40 on a 10k (still a way to go when there are 41:44 on the records).
    I managed to see one of my dreams coming true just this year, actually already 3 times now: sub-20 on 5ks, which is nothing for you elite runners, but means the world to a late-start lady like me in her forties 😉

    • Sub-20 5k is my goal so CONGRATULATIONS!! You are now one of my heroes 😀

      • Thanks, Katie! If I can do it, everybody can 😉 Just stay committed and be patient (it took me some years of running on club level to get there..). Can als highly recommend the book by Jack Daniels (Daniels’ Running Formula), a easy-to-follow guide to maximum output with minimum effort. Go for your goals!

        • Thanks for the encouragement and advice, Anna! I love Jack Daniels’ book! I started running in my late 20s and that book was the only plan that really “clicked” for me. I’m still following his plans. 🙂 Thanks again!

  • Shannon O'Hara
    August 1, 2016 7:56 am

    I love this Tina, thankyou. My ultimate dream is to be a nurse in the military

  • Soren Brockdorf
    August 1, 2016 8:25 am

    It is very odd behavior if you think about it. Nobody would say to the VP of Global Banking at Bank of America and say , ” are you going to become the CEO this year.” Not only is it rude, it is just strange if you think about it. I was once on a plane with a famous comedian and he stated that the strangest thing about being him is that he will be with a group, and someone will ask him to be funny. Nobody does that to people. In the same VP example, you would not ask the VP to make you a deposit out of the blue. Sports is the only profession where we care about how you are ranked, every other career we only care of you are good or not. Are you good at what you do, that is what matters–right?

  • YES to all of this. Love this post and it is so honest and true to be proud of your achievements and ignore what others say about them. Every accomplishment is a reason to be proud <3

  • Thank you.

  • The comment about why don’t you train a little harder made me laugh. The look on my face when I hear that one is telling, ha.

  • Absolutely, so true. It’s crazy to me that people cannot recognize your accomplishments and only want to know about the Olympics!! That really puts it into perspective how little non-runners “get” the sport… definitely not worth putting any weight into those opinions. We celebrate our own bests, whatever they may be!

  • Such an poignant post Tina – thank you for sharing your thoughts so honestly. You are an incredible and inspiring athlete, but those of us reading and saying that shouldn’t make a difference for you – your accomplishments should matter to you, just as mine matter to me. It’s uplifting and fantastic when others support us, but it shouldn’t even be a drop in the bucket when others put us down. Excellence is an individual pursuit, done for oneself and not for the approval of others. So keep on putting in the hard work and achieving your excellence! 🙂

  • People take your accomplishments away from you only if you let them. The stranger you mention is just a piece of crap, how do you not see that? He’s that sort of troll that elevates himself by denigrating you and your accomplishments because of his massive insecurity.

    Why would anyone want to go to the Olympics? Corruption, state sponsored drug programs, rigged judges, and Rio is a cesspool of filth (litterally). Why would you want to associate yourself with this marathon of hypocrisy?

    If you go there, you will be competing against hordes of wannabe athletes jacked up on a soup of steroids- you have no chance!

    I’m much more impressed with Tina the hard worker, the Girl that gets better and better all the time through passion, dedication, and persistence. The Olympics is way over blown, it’s fairly meaningless in today’s society.

    Really good book: Illusions, the adventures of a reluctant messiah. Quote: argue for your limitations and they’re yours!

  • Amazing post. It’s awesome you recognize the importance of putting the brakes on any negative thoughts when someone asks you that, because you’re right that it should never ever take away from what you’ve accomplished.
    I think this is a lesson in a lot of ways. We should all be mindful when we ask people things like whether or not they got the job they wanted or made the varsity team, blah blah blah. These types of questions can cause a lot of disappointment and anxiety when they shouldn’t. You have nothing to be ashamed of, and you should only feel proud of how many people you’ve inspired through your communication. Many athletes never do that.

  • Unfortunately, many people like to have opinions about things we don’t
    really know about and something like the Olympics makes it easy to make a
    snap judgement about who the “best” are. But there is a lot of
    corruption and heartbreak that goes along with making (or not) the
    Olympic team. There are so many more athletes devastated following the
    selection of the team than excited. It doesn’t mean they didn’t also have an awesome year and race at the top of their ability. It’s just a crummy way it works. The true fans care about races throughout the year and know that the Olympics is a big deal, but it doesn’t define anyone’s career. I think the NY Times’ profile on Lauren Fleshman’s retirement called her the best runner to never make it to the Olympics. The average Joe non-fan might think she’s not a great runner because there are no Olympic appearances behind her name, but those in the know realize that more great athletes will NOT go to the Olympics than will go. I mean, Kara Goucher came in 4th at the trials this year! Who can say she’s not a top distance runner?? You’re an amazing athlete, Tina, and I hope we will be following your career and celebrating your accomplishments for years to come! You’ve had a lot this year. It’s been fun to cheer you on through the internet. 🙂

    It’s kind of easy for me to have that perspective as someone who will not ever go to the Olympics, but this post still resonated with me on a personal level. I don’t often talk to people about my running because this invariably happens, even amongst well meaning friends:
    Someone will ask what distance I like to run and I’ll say “5k, but really like the shorter, faster distances”.
    Then it’ll come out, “well, have you ever ran a half-marathon or a marathon?”.
    “No,” I’ll say, “I prefer the shorter distances”.
    Friend/acquaintance/stranger: “Aww, I bet you could run a marathon if you put your mind to it!”
    I grit my teeth; “maybe, but my goal right now is to run a faster 5k, and I’m enjoying that”.
    There will be an awkward pause and then they’ll usually say something like, “well… the 5ks are usually the more fun races anyway.. You know, like color runs!” (I feel is the equivalent of patting me on the head and saying “there there”)

    I’ll leave those conversations proud I stuck up for my shorter distances, but also really, really, really bummed that, once again, I don’t come off as a “legit” runner. I forget that the person I’m talking to doesn’t know running, doesn’t care about running, etc. etc. but I think their opinions are a fair reflection on my interests. They aren’t. They should mean nothing to my sense of self worth.

    My ultimate (possibly unattainable, but it’s about the journey) goal is to break 20 minutes in a 5k.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience, Katie.

      The awkward thing is that the person expecting you to go for a (half) marathon, does not even put her/his own mind to running, let alone marathons!?
      YOU are the person with the achievement (running, whichever distance) and YOU are the one facing (implicit) criticism.

      It actually makes me somewhat angry..
      (and I might not shy away from expressing it, at least subtly, with a twinkle in my eye)
      What is their 5k PB? 😉
      If (s)he can’t compete at your level yet, (s)he might want to turn up at one of your races, or otherwise won’t have a clue about making a judgement or having an opinion on your performance.

      Well done on your running and determination!

  • I think what you need to take away from this is the fact that people look at you and your ability and believe you have a chance to get to the Olympics. They ask for a reason – because you’re a kick ass runner with shed loads of talent. I think you should be hugely flattered by this. Though I totally get why sometimes it’s a kick in the teeth and for some of the people asking it might be tactless – but you are such a talented runner, you don’t need the Olympics to show that. You have achieved so much already and have a great career stretching ahead. Look at Jo Pavey!

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