Those of you racing cross this season: let’s make a pledge this season. Let’s make a pledge not to sandbag ourselves, underestimate ourselves, or downplay our abilities.
In my 3 years of racing cross, my eyes have really been opened to how often the cis women I race with lower the bar for themselves while getting ready for a race (myself included!).
“Oh, I’m going to line up in the back because that’s where I’ll be the whole race.”
While this behavior is most prevalent at the start line and in the hours before a race, I hear it all the time in practices, clinics, at any bike related activity. I didn’t even realize I was doing it myself until I heard it over and over again from the women I raced with – and it started to annoy me!
“Okay everyone! I’ll try to stay out of your way when you’re passing me, because I’m really slow!”
It first annoyed me because as someone who is statistically most likely to be in the bottom 2 spots, I was irritated by these women talking about being last and then smoking me in the race.
“What’s the prize for DFL, because that’s the only prize I’m winning!”
But then I was bothered by it once I probed a little deeper into why women might be making these statements.
“Oh, I’m just using the race for training so you all are going to beat me.”
Once I started examining my own emotions at the start of a race and analyzing the rationale behind why we might make these kinds of statements, I came up with two theories:
- A need to lower expectations so we don’t disappoint anyone/ourselves;
- Basic race jitters and a true fear of coming in last and being embarrassed.
“Don’t worry about being slow, because I’ll definitely be slower than you.”
I’m finding this kind of talk more and more damaging. And while I can forgive the women for this kind of talk, as I understand they are speaking from a place of insecurity and nervousness, I can’t excuse it or let it go unchecked anymore. When you talk like that, you are only hurting yourselves – if you go into a race with a negative mindset, how are you going to have the best race possible?? How does saying things like that make you a stronger person? It doesn’t help you OR anyone around you to talk like that.
All of this is to say, let’s make a pledge this season to cut that negative self talk crap out!
It has been empowering and eye opening and exciting to watch so many women beat their fears and try ‘cross racing. I know you are so much stronger and capable than many of you think you are and it kills me to hear you talk down about yourself before a race. If we’re always being negative about ourselves, how expect others to be positive for us? Own who you are and what you’re capable of. Own your nervousness and the goals you’ve set for yourself! Instead of negative self talk, let’s try saying these things instead before a race:
“I’m racing for myself and I’m excited to see if I can accomplish my goals!”
“I’m feeling anxious about how much racing is going to hurt!”
“I feel slow today, but I’m going to give it my best shot.”
“I’m so nervous about the technical parts of this course! It’s so challenging and I wonder how often I’m going to have to get off my bike.”
“Racing makes me so tense I either want to throw up or poop. Maybe both.”
Pick a goal, like trying to do a proper remount every time, trying out the scary feature at least once, catching one person ahead of you and focus on THAT instead of worrying about letting others or yourself down. If you give it your best shot, you won’t let anyone down and you’ll feel awesome about your effort, no matter where you finish!