If you look up courage in the dictionary, you’ll find a pretty obvious definition. Courage is the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous.
Ok, so remember that time you competed in your race injured? That was pretty courageous, wasn’t it? You probably got a lot of praise from your teammates, colleagues, and family who used words like “tough” and “resilient” and “strong.” You felt somewhat accomplished, even knowing that your worsened injury will have you on the sidelines for a while.
Now what about when you return? I know what you’re going to do. YOU know what you’re going to do! You’re not going to race (or even train in public) until your pace is 100% back to what it was before. If you do race, you’re going to make sure everyone knows that you’re coming back from injury OR you're going to push way harder than is healthy at this time in your recovery. If only you could wear a shirt to explain the whole disaster while you were racing. I mean, that little kid that passes you has got to know that you’re usually faster than him, right?!
Are you relating to this? Can you see a problem here? Perhaps running until your legs fall off is not courage. Perhaps only showing up at your best is not courage. Perhaps never taking an “easy” day is not courage. At the core of this story is a lack of vulnerability, a lack of courage.
Courage comes from the Latin word cor, meaning heart. It also comes from the French word corage, meaning heart and “innermost feelings.” From this comes the Middle English use of the term courage, used to convey “what’s in one's mind or thoughts.” It can also be said that courage was formally defined as, “speaking one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.”
COURAGE is being vulnerable...
We can go into a lot of detail here about shame and vulnerability, but let's just take what I just wrote into consideration. I would ask you to redefine what you think of as courageous in your training and racing. Is it courageous to run injured and risk your season OR is it courageous to be vulnerable enough to sit one out without having to explain yourself and without judging yourself? Is it courageous to not race just because you’re not fast right now OR is courageous to race (again without judgment of yourself) in order to get the practice and experience AND have fun?!
Please share your stories and or thoughts about your own experiences with this and remember, train mindfully and support each other!
This post was inspired by Brene Brown’s book, “Daring Greatly,” as well as her TED Talk, “The Power of Vulnerability.”
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