Beginner’s Luck: Doing the Best That You Can

It's important to keep an eye on the messages you're giving yourself as you transition from the off-season back into structured training.

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Early season pressure to train—and sometimes overtrain—can be high. We enter a “new year, new you” mentality that can be beneficial, yet tragic at the same time. When we have fallen behind because of sheer holiday slothdom or injury, picking ourselves up and moving forward can be tough—especially without creating a mental flogging of ourselves. Learning to harness the energy and motivation of a new year for good (and not evil) is the key for a good season (and heck—life!) tactic.

Setting yourself up for success in health also includes mentally taking care of yourself. Two big tips have helped me in each new season to keep dibs on the good of the new year and stay out of the frenzy of not-so-great stuff.

1. Stop Comparing Yourself

We hear this all the time, and the advice is sound. However, too often we only think of this in terms of comparison to others. Sometimes we forget that comparing ourselves to a different version of ourselves is often just as detrimental. A younger, fitter version of ourselves. A faster, leaner version.

Does that mean we stop working towards something better? Nope. Does that mean that we sit on the couch and do nothing? Nope.

But it does mean that we need to work to apply the cardinal rule of growth: Give Thyself a Damn Break.

2. Everyone is Doing the Best that They Can

In one of her recent books, Dr. Brene Brown posed the following question: How different would we be if we assumed that everyone (around us) was doing the best that they can? Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of life, we find ourselves completely aggravated at people in traffic, at the grocery store, wherever, thinking—how could these people be this stupid? I mean, sometimes it seems like every idiot in the world is around us, right?

At the same time, assuming that everyone is doing the best they can (whether it’s true or not) helps us show others grace and, by extension, we show it to ourselves. Those of us who find ourselves the most frustrated and angry at others are often struggling with a giant vat of perfectionist tendencies.

By implementing this strategy with others, I am also assuring myself that I, too, am doing the best that I can.

This mentality crosses over into triathlon. If we are putting our best effort forward in each workout, addressing our nutrition and sleep requirements, and taking care of our mental and spiritual needs, then we can say to ourselves, “I am doing the best that I can.”

Sure, this was all a long way around the block to say: be kind to yourself. And look, if you are able to just say, “I think I’ll be kind to myself now,” then more power to you.

But I have found that those of us who have been extremely mean to ourselves for very long periods of time can’t just wake up one day and be nice to ourselves.

Often the kindness to others starts the journey to kindness towards ourselves.

Everyone is doing the best that they can. That means yes—you are too.

Meredith Atwood (@SwimBikeMom) is a recovering attorney, motivational speaker, and author of Triathlon for the Every Woman: You Can Be a Triathlete. Yes. You. She is the host of the podcast, The Same 24 Hours. Meredith lives in Overland Park, Kansas with her husband and two children and writes about all things at She has a second book due out Fall 2019.

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