A while ago, when I started training with Coach Jon and the Tribal athletes I realized I had joined a group of badasses. I definitely started feeling overwhelmed and under-amazing. I just made that word up. Anyway, I would see this group of folks crush races and push paces that I know I’d never achieve (I’m not being negative here, but, I’m probably not going to run a five minute mile anytime soon). And of course, this bothered me some but I kept on keeping on. And on the one hand, I was jealous, but since this was now my Tribe, I was/am happy for them.

The big thing that was happening though was that as I was watching Coach Jon and Coach Nick (this is pre-Coach Mason), I was beginning to think that I could only gain their respect if I was one of those top tier, speediest of speedy athletes. Granted, these coaches have NEVER said a thing about caring only about their fastest athletes, quite the opposite in fact, but of course, deep inside of my screwy brain I began thinking that I wasn’t good enough to be with these people because they were so much faster than me. And this is truth, I’m one of the slowest at our track sessions. I get lapped and lapped and lapped. And over time it did start weighing on me. I got to a point where I was very anxious before these group workouts. And some of it was thinking that the coaches would not see me as favorably as the other athletes.

As you may remember, I’m a people pleaser. I love of gold stars. I want to be Coach’s Pet. I can’t help it. Maybe I didn’t get enough attention as a kid or maybe there is no such thing as enough attention for my liking, who knows, I love making people happy and it’s true in just about any situation. I have learned over the years when it’s ok to be a people pleaser and when it’s not…because some people will take advantage of that and some are very put off by it.

Anyway, in my mind I believed that if I could just run faster the coach’s would be happier with me and thus, yay gold stars! But of course what wound up happening was that I was giving myself mega-anxiety and under-performing by completely psyching myself out. I continue to place undo pressure on myself like a huge dork. And I promise I don’t act like a complete fool around the coaches for head pats, but I do not-so-secretly like them.

So what am I getting at here? Do I just want you all to know what a nutball I am? Maybe.

But, remember when I said that becoming a coach has given me more back than I ever thought? Well this one is BIG.

Coach Jon told me numerous times that he didn’t care about how fast I was. And while I nodded and said, “I know,” in my biggest and best people pleasing smile, inside I thought,”Yeah sure you don’t.”

And then I started coaching.

And guess what? My favorite, favorite, favorite and most Coach’s Pet athletes ARE NOT THE FASTEST. If my slowest athlete PR’s, I’m just as happy as if my fastest PR’s because they did the work to get that PR. I’m over the moon when a new swimmer wants to try a flip turn or dive off of the blocks. I am enamored with an athlete when they take it upon themselves to add in a swim on an active recovery day. And oh my goodness when they show up to practice or to meet me for a run and they say, “I AM getting this whole five miles in no matter what,” my heart skips a beat.

I love it when an athlete PR’s a race and I can say, “Hey, I had a small hand in helping them get there.” BUT. BUT. I didn’t do the work to get them there. THEY DID. I totally get it now. I just need to put in the work and the success will come. And the coaches really DO NOT CARE how fast I am. They were trying to get that through my head, but until I began coaching, I didn’t believe it. (Sincere apologies for not “getting it” to all coaches, especially Jon. I’m a slow learner sometimes, what can I say?)

By just doing the work and trying my hardest, and not paying attention to who is or is not faster, I will reap the benefits. Last week I ran with a group that dropped me like a bag of dirt, and I thought, “I can’t wait to do that again.” And then on Sunday at the track with the Tribe, I got lapped, as I often do, but I couldn’t have cared less. I was there, putting in MY work, while everyone else put in theirs. And after track, I rode off into the sunset on my unicorn.

Ok, so that last part didn’t happen, but the rest is true.

Put in the work, don’t worry about what others are doing, and the success will come.