As an athlete, or even just as a human being, it can be a challenge to humble ourselves enough to listen to and heed the advice of others. When it comes to training there are plenty of opportunities to practice humility before, during and after training sessions or events. It is not always easy, but on more than one occasion I have had to listen to a coach, another athlete or a family member, and doing so has made a big difference in my training and racing. I think it is human nature to believe that we have it all under control, but more often than not, we don’t. As a strong willed individual, I have often struggled with this, but by learning who to take advice from and even who not to take advice from, I have become a better person and a better athlete.
The latest occurrence was after my last half distance, which was Toughman Indiana. I received a phone call from a good friend and fellow triathlete, after he read my post-race report. As soon as he read that blog, he knew that the bloating and discomfort that I experienced during the bike and run was due to an excessive amount of simple sugars. I knew right away that he was spot on and that I had indeed taken in too much sugar the day before the race in the form of sports drink that I had mixed too strong, in addition to bars and fruit the morning of the race. I had also written about the tightness and cramping in my hamstrings, which was because I was not taking in enough salt during the event. In this case it was not hard to hear him tell me what went wrong because I respect him and always appreciate hearing his take on things. What was hard was knowing that I screwed up and I always think I should know better. At any rate, you have to appreciate someone who takes the time to actually call you in this day and age, just to set you straight.
In July of 2013, a group of us took a trip to Racine to do the Ironman Racine 70.3 race. The day before the race we went to check out the water and do a warmup swim. Much to our dismay, the water was freezing cold. Not realizing how freezing cold the water was going to be, we didn’t bring our wetsuits for this warmup swim. A local teenager was sitting there, in Lake Michigan, and he calmly said, “Don’t worry, if the wind changes direction the water will be warmer for your race.”. That evening we checked and double checked the forecasted wind direction, and it did change. And the water was warmer. It was still freezing cold, but it wasn’t as freezing cold. That kid knew what he was talking about and it was another lesson in listening to what people have to say, because you just might learn something.
A couple of years ago I was headed to a race that I had done several times. I did not bother to take the time to look at the course maps, or any details about the event. I mean, why should I take the time to read the details about an event that I had done repeatedly? Wrong! The night before the event, a friend emailed me to ask if I’d driven the course. When I told him that I hadn’t and asked why he wanted to know, he proceeded to inform me that the previous course was closed and the new course had some seriously sharp turns that happened to be located at the bottoms of some good sized hills. I immediately called him and we did some last minute course recon. If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you know that I am all about knowing the rules, and I always study a new course rather extensively. Last minute changes are not something that I enjoy when it comes to a race.
I won’t even get into all the times I’ve had to listen to my wife, or live with the consequences of not listening to her when she was right. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind me saying that she isn’t always right, but sometimes she is. It’s usually the times when I am most convinced that she’s wrong, that she’s the most right. In closing, sometimes we need help from others. Listening is a great way to learn and can save you much grief. It is important to have discernment enough to not let someone who is wrong put a wrench in your gears, but being humble and letting people help you is a good thing.
What is your take on being humble and listening to others?