Speak out and be honest.
We all have struggles. Some periods of our lives are harder than others, but we all have tough things to get through in our individual lives. A lot of the time, this just isn’t known. We only see people as they appear on the outside, and frequently, this is good. As individuals we don’t like to appear as though we are struggling as we deem it as a sign of weakness, but it couldn’t be more opposite. If anything, opening up signalises strength, because being able to is something to be proud of.
Voicing your experiences is a priceless thing to do. You never know who you might be helping. It is very unlikely that what you are going through nobody else has ever experienced, so it may really help somebody to hear your story.
Not only may it help someone else, but it may also bring you some clarity over your thoughts. Often we get easily caught up in our own lives that we begin to lose perspective. Expressing our thoughts and feelings can allow us to connect with their meaning and help put our worries to rest. Even if you don’t get feedback from others, simply putting your thoughts out in the open can be a positive step towards self acceptance.
Never forget to be honest. Withholding or skewing the truth doesn’t help anyone. It plunges others into a false trap and can make them seem isolated. If you aren’t honest, it could exacerbate another persons worries. Additionally, it can lead you into a false sense of security. The more you lie to yourself, the less likely you are to confront you the problem head on. It can cause you to convince yourself that your worries don’t exist. This may be a great temporary fix, but it doesn’t solve the root or cause of the problem. A little bit of honesty can go a long way.
Accepting your mistakes comes with being honest. Being open about them is a sign of our acceptance. It shows we are aware of the challenges we have faced and the way we have dealt with them, but we are at peace with this, and have come out the other side stronger. If you are able to do this, big steps can be taken to allow others to learn from our mistakes so they can avoid them in the future. If we can’t be open and honest about our past and ongoing battles, the younger generation will only be the same, which means more people will continue to struggle in silence. If we are open about such problems we can do our best to fight them.
Ultimately, we need to create an environment where people feel able to voice their struggles and consciously be open to help.
Plan A CAN sway
I am a stickler for sticking to plan A, because, surely you wouldn’t have made it plan A if it wasn’t the best route to follow. I can get very set in my ways and don’t like it when plan A doesn’t go as it should. I convince myself that plan A is the only route and any other pathway will lead to failure. However, life is not as straight forward as plan A, and sometimes we have to resort to plan B, C, D or maybe even E or F, whether we like it or not. It may not always be out of choice, but sometimes change is necessary, and this is ok.
Training this week didn’t go quite to plan. I felt very tired on Tuesday during my session and the legs were having none of it, so I called it a day halfway through the session. I don’t tend to do this easily, so it takes me truly feeling like crap, for the plug to be pulled. I then switched my days around, took a rest day on Wednesday, and got back to it on Thursday, unsurprisingly feeling much much better. I listened to my body, gave it a little extra recovery time, and resorted to plan B. Despite what my irrational brain might of said, this won’t have set me back. If anything, it may pushed me forward, as I listened to my body rather than fighting it for days, or possibly weeks.
Plan A may be the most straight forward, but it isn’t always the best for where you are at NOW. When training plans are first made, you look at the weeks ahead with the intention that they will all go swimmingly. Unfortunately, or maybe even fortunately, this doesn’t always happen. The plan may be set, but it is always open to change depending on how you feel. Life can be random, so we have to be flexible and react to what it throws at us from time to time. We can’t predict what will happen every day, so we can’t predict how all our sessions will go. The important part is reacting sensibly and remaining positives
It is also important to focus on YOU. It doesn’t matter if everyone else has had the best week of their lives. They probably have had a bad session at some point, they just choose to only reveal the perfect ones on social media. You are doing the week that will prepare you to be the strongest athlete you can be, and if that looks different to somebody else’s because your body needs a bit more time to recover, that’s ok. Listen to what your body is telling you.
As my coach told me, you are never in the same place twice, and he was speaking some pretty good sense. We don’t always see it, but it is true. No matter how similarly things go, something is always different. Whether it be the weather, how you felt, where you approached something from, or what you had done the weeks prior, something is always different. Therefore, you need to be prepared to make changes along the way the allow scape for different situations. Be adaptive, and as hard as it can be, be flexible with plan A. When it gets nearer to the time, sometimes plan B is the better route to take.
Confidence comes in all shapes and sizes. How confidence looks on one person is not how it looks on another. Some are quietly confident whilst others prefer to vocalise their confidence, but what does look the same, is how confidence presents itself on the inside. It is the confidence we possess in our ability, those around us, and the process we follow, that allows people to pursue challenges despite how they appear outwardly.
Confidence in yourself.
This is quite possibly the hardest sort of confidence. A lot of us are very quick to criticise ourselves and put ourselves down when things don’t go to plan. Especially when you decide to pursue something in life that isn’t guaranteed (most things we do in life), because you have to be confident in your own ability, or you are more likely to fail. Being confident in ourselves enables us to pursue whatever excites us and be proud of the decision. Sometimes, believing in yourself is the hardest step to take, but the one that will most likely lead you towards success. It has taken a lot for me to build up my self confidence, and don’t get me wrong, some days I don’t have much, but the one thing I have noticed, is that I tend to outdo my expectations, when I tackle a challenge with 100% confidence in myself. It isn’t fluke, it’s the way it goes.
Confidence in those around you.
Whilst we are all responsible for our own actions, a lot of our life adventures rely on other people too. Whether it is a coach, a partner, a relative, or a business partner, it is important to have confidence in those supporting you, and to trust their opinion. Sometimes, not always, but sometimes, you are lucky enough to find someone who knows what’s right for you more than you know yourself. Recognising when it is right to be confident that someone else will guide you in the right direction and have your best interests at heart is powerful. Sometimes this trust, coincided with self belief, is the magical equation that allows you to take steps you never thought possible.
Confidence in the process.
In my eyes, the most important sense of confidence one can have is confidence in the process they are on. Without this, the confidence you have in yourself and others, can be irrelevant. Being confident in the process involves possessing a patience; a frustrating trait, but a vital one. We all have the unique journeys we do for some reason, so trusting where life takes us, and absorbing the ups and downs is all part of it, because who knows where the journey may take you if you have confidence in it.
Confidence doesn’t come overtime. It takes a lot of hard work and persistence to build up, but don’t give up on it, because it is a very powerful trait to possess.
Recognising the need for change.
One of the most powerful traits an individual can possess in my opinion is the ability to recognise the need for change. This is especially relevant in terms of self help. Many of us are programmed to help others and not to self pity, but the concept of self pity is frequently misconstrued. There is a stark contrast between self help and self pity, and self help is something many of us neglect. Being able to recognise the need for change and understand when helping yourself is something that needs to be done, is key to developing as an individual and as an athlete.
Only a couple of years ago, I was stuck in a place without the ability to recognise I needed help. Before anyone else could help me, I needed to see for myself that I needed help, but I was far from this point. I was training like a maniac whilst significantly underfuelling and I was doing absolutely nothing to help myself. In fact, I was doing the opposite. This was because, at the time, I was unable to see that I needed help. I believed I had my best interests at heart and was acting accordingly. I did not want to change, nor did I feel I needed to, so anyone who suggested I did, I believed to be attacking me. No matter what others would say, I did not see what they saw, so their attempts to help me were useless at the time.
It makes me so sad to think of the way I acted when others simply wanted to help me, but I didn’t want help. I was ‘coping’. This method of coping was however destructive. If this made me see one thing, it’s that you cannot be helped until you recognise the need for change/ help. It was not until I was able to recognise the pit of destruction I had got caught up in, that I was about to embark upon the journey towards positive change.
Once you can accept yourself that change is an essential part of your self development, the rest of the journey is a lot easier. This is hands down the hardest thing for someone to do. Others can and do have your best interests at heart, but no one can force action upon you. You are in charge of your own destiny, so when you are acting destructively, recognising how change will only benefit you and make your dreams more achievable, is an incredibly powerful thing.
This relates to any walk of life, not just sport, and not just a mental battle. Whether it be the need to change your health, your mentality, the coach you are with, or the job you are in, until you realise you need to make these changes, no positive outcome will arise.
Recognising the need is always the first step towards anything. All these things start with you. Until you are able to recognise the need to change, nothing will happen. So, listen to what others may be saying and reflect, because they do have your best interests at heart, and their suggestions may genuinely make sense. All you need to do is help yourself.
Humans are unique. We are all physically and mentally different. So, why, when it comes to competition, are female athletes all expected to look the same? It’s unrealistic. We aren’t all built to have six packs, long legs and a high level of muscle definition. Our physique doesn’t represent who we are as athletes nor how good we are at what we do, so why does it matter? We all look different, it’s just part of human nature and is representative of how strength looks different on different people.
We all look different and have different confidences and insecurity, and as a result, all prefer to compete in different outfits. This should ultimately be supported and encouraged. You should be able to compete in the outfit most comfortable for you, not the one that shows off the right amount of flesh.
As athletes, we train hard for the opportunities we get to race. Therefore, we want to do everything we can to ensure each race goes in the best way possible, and to do this, we have to be comfortable. The last thing we want to be doing on race day is feeling self-conscious about our attire and worrying that we aren’t comfortable. Therefore, we have to wear what works for us, not what somebody else tells us we should wear. We need to do everything to ensure all our focus is on the race ahead, and not how we look.
If we are self-conscious about a specific body part, or just don’t like having lots of flesh on show, why should we have to reveal it. It is important when competing to wear what works for you. If you feel most confident in briefs and a crop top, wear that. If you prefer to wear longer shorts and a vest, wear that. Alternatively, if you feel happiest in a bodysuit, wear this. The outfit you wear is not the decision of anyone other than yourself. It also has no other effect on your performance except to influence how you feel. For this reason, you have to wear what works for you, as the opinion of others is irrelevant to how you perform.
In addition to this, it is important to not compare yourself to others based on image. How others look when they compete is not how you need to look at a competition. Everyone looks very different when they are competition ready. We all perform at our best when we are healthy and comfortable in our own skin, and this looks different on everyone. For this reason, we all feel comfortable showing different parts of ourselves. In the end, what we wear for competition needs to make us feel the best version of ourselves. For me, I like to wear a crop top and briefs because there is less for me to get annoyed by. I find vests uncomfortable against my skin and therefore prefer to wear a crop top. I also find wearing briefs allows me to stop constantly trying to pull shorts down as they rise up.
As shown by Holly Bradshaw in her recent Instagram post, it is important to stand up for yourself and what you feel confident in. No circumstances should force you to wear an outfit that you feel uncomfortable in. Not only will this make you feel self-conscious but may resultantly hinder your performance, and we do not train incredibly hard for our competition outfit to be the thing that throws us off our best.
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!