Getting the Right Racing Attitude - Mike Greer

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How to be a BOPer or MOPer in a FOPer world. As a middle of the pack athlete, I have adopted some things I do to assure a victorious feeling at every event I finish.

By Mike Greer
2004/2005 USAT Interim Executive Director Contributor

How many times do we find ourselves coming from a recent multi-sport competition to be asked by our loved ones, “Did you win?”

It is never, "How was the race?" "How did you feel?" or "Did you have fun?" From the beginning of time it appears that there is and will always be that “winner” mentality. So, I think we learn early in our sporting life that bringing home the awards is foremost in our minds and those of the people around us.

In many cases, the loved ones who support and cheer for the competitor feel they have a vested interest in whether or not there is a victory, and so they do want to know how we finished and how we are progressing. The most frequent response to how we finished is usually a humble reply of, “Aw shucks, it was a victory to just start and finish the race.” But sometimes this just isn’t as complete an answer as we could give and comes up short to the competitive minds around us. While there is not a “one attitude fits all”, there are some common guidelines that will help to establish some positive, healthy attitudes.

My goal here is to present some ideas that will foster these positive attitudes and in turn will encourage you to the starting line, the finish line and possibly to the podium. And last but certainly not least, I’d like to give you an idea about how to feel victorious, no matter the actual place in the finish chutes.

Dispelling Some Myths
Myth#1: Anyone who trains hard enough will become a podium winner in the multi-sport (specifically triathlon) world.
Reality#1: All bodies are not created equal and each has its own individual genetics. Sometimes hard training has no influence on the resistance presented by the non-genetic endurance body; realizing this, we just have to accept the “finish” as the “victory.”

Categorizing Yourself
My experience over the past 20 years has led me to the conclusion that there are various ways to describe the different competitors:

  • Superman or Wonder Woman — The totally genetically-gifted in endurance athletics with the ability to train hard and healthy with a likely finish on the podium.
  • Slacker Man or Slacker Woman — They’re the same as “Superman” but don’t train hard and never realize their potential.
  • Weekend Warrior — The former athlete from another sport who just wants to stay in good physical shape and have some form of competition in their lives.
  • The Fitness Fiend — This type of athlete thinks, “I want to swim, bike and run just to be associated with the life style and keep my body in excellent aerobic shape.” This athlete is certainly one who has moved out of their existing comfort zone to take on a new challenge and, in turn, to improve their life style.

So which athlete are you? Deciding which type of athlete you are will be the key to earning that feeling of victory at any race. Realizing that you’re no Superman but just a Fitness Fiend wanting to stay in shape can quell your disappointment when you don’t bring home loads of hardware from your latest competitions.

The Seven-Yard Zone
As a middle of the pack athlete myself, I have adopted some things I do to assure myself of a victorious feeling at every event I finish.

  • First, I established what I called my “seven-yard zone” during a race. This was my zone and anyone who wanted to pass through the zone was welcome, but it was my territory and no matter what, I always finished first in it.
  • Two, I never compared myself to anyone else and I always ran against myself, not considering any other competitor out of my age group or gender. Over the years of competing I have found that this works well for me and always assures me of my victory. With this attitude I have been able to stay healthy and even become more competitive (within my age group) and continue to enjoy racking my bicycle in the very early morning hours of pre-race activity.

Hopefully some of these thoughts will provide insight to your “victory” in the future!

A self-proclaimed MOPer, Mike Greer has raced in more than 200 triathlons. He’s also the race director of the Buffalo Springs Lake Triathlon in Lubbock, TX.



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date: April 17, 2005

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