Ten People You Might Meet At A Race

The Joker

The Joker is nervous but uses humour to deal with the nerves. The Joker sometimes acts as if the moment doesn’t really mean much, which is entirely the opposite of how the Joker actually feels. The outward manifestation of the underlying nerves the Joker feels can come across as silliness, playfulness or lacking care. But make no mistake, the Joker is nervous and anxious and cares deeply. Jokers will often try to disarm others by pretending that the moment doesn’t matter. Jokers rarely, if ever, do this consciously because they are not entirely conscious themselves rather acting out a role to manage nervousness.

The Bully

Like all bullies, the bully you meet at a race is insecure. The Bullies’ deepest fear is to be exposed as weak. Competition terrifies the Bully because to a Bully competition carries with it the risk of that exposure. Bullies sometimes are successful because they can derail other people with their words and/or actions. Bullies will often find a way out through excuse or blaming others. Nothing is worse to a Bully than the idea that they did their very best and still did not measure up. To do your best and accept that result even if it does not measure up takes courage and the Bully lacks this courage.

The Saboteur

The Saboteur is terrified of an outcome that is not up to their own expectation or the expectation they perceive others have of them. The Saboteur is also terrified of the physical and mental discomfort that often goes along with a competition. As such, the Saboteur will find a way out to save themselves from the discomfort that comes along with a big effort and/or substandard results. A large part of the Saboteurs’ identity resides in the attention received upon a failure so in an odd way the bail out or self sabotage and corresponding attention compensates for the attention they might receive from doing their best. The Saboteur is one of the more tragic people you meet at a race because the pain they anticipate from a bad result is so strong they are willing to create more pain just to avoid it. In reality however, the pain from a bad result is rarely ever as bad as we think it will be.

The Neurotic

The Neurotic feels a lack of control around races because there is a pending outcome that is somewhat out of their control. The Neurotic understands that they must produce a big effort for success but also knows that they cannot control their competitors. The Neurotic regains some of that control by, well, being neurotic about stuff. The Neurotic will mentally rehearse every aspect of a race over and over and over again. The Neurotic is exceptionally detailed in their approach to a race and has a difficult time managing if things do not go exactly as planned. The Neurotic is very rigid and often lacks the flexibility to maneuver if there is adversity or changes to the plan. Nothing is more relieving to The Neurotic than when the race actually starts.

The Hulk

The Hulk is very nervous and their default response is to simply try harder. But often this reaction is not productive because the trying harder leads to trying too hard. Pacing and executional strategies are thrown out in place of maximum exertion. The Hulk has a hard time down-regulating nervous energy or indeed trusting that pacing and strategic execution will do the job and instead overexerts in the short term to the detriment of the long term objective.

The Excitable

The Excitable is quite literally expressing all of their nervous energy externally without reservation. The Excitable generally moves very quickly from place to place and speaks rapidly about many things. The Excitable has a tendency to lose a bit of their peripheral vision and the result can be tunnel vision. This is not entirely bad although this can take a significant amount of energy leaving the Excitable a bit exhausted by the time the race starts. The Excitable should avoid caffeine.

The Overwhelmed

The Overwhelmed is often carrying a great deal of emotional energy from other aspects of their lives that they haven’t entirely worked out. A race situation heightens these emotions because nervousness adds fuel to an already combustable situation. Race week and the anticipation that goes along with it can become so overwhelming to the Overwhelmed because their mental bucket for coping is already way too full.

The Overwhelmed is often using the race situation as a venue for catharsis, which can present as a rather significant release of emotional energy. The Overwhelmed, whether consciously or not, will often equate a personal victory in a race with a resolution to the emotional load they are carrying. Rarely, if ever, does this generate long term relief. Races effectively become a short term fix.

The Worrier

The Worrier is filled with dread and doubt because the internal conversation they are having always starts with “What if….” What if I don’t succeed? What if my equipment fails? What if I crash? What if people see my result and think I’m not very good at this? What if the result affirms my deepest fear- that I might not be very good at this? What if it rains? What if it’s too hot? What if I have that issue that I had at the last event? What if I have a bad day?

Yeah…..but what if the race is a huge success? What then?

The Doubter

The Doubter arrives at a race and is suddenly terrified that their approach is wrong. Oddly, this seems to be a metamorphosis catalyzed by race nerves and not because of any real logic. The Doubter will question their strategy, their equipment, their nutrition and their entire approach. This usually happens because they start paying attention to everyone around them instead of staying internally focused and trusting that perhaps their approach is actually the right one. The Doubter and the Worrier have very similar tendencies because the biggest question the Doubter starts to ask is “what if everything i’m doing is wrong?”

The Champion

The Champion is just as nervous as everyone else but has developed a strategy to deal with those nerves. The Champion doesn’t ignore the nerves or pretend they’re not there- the Champion honours the nerves as a necessary part of the process. The Champion understands that nerves are just energy and that energy is going to manifest itself in some form so it might as well be directed at a productive part of the process.

The Champion is clear about their intention and likely has a desired outcome but remains focused internally and controls what they can control. The Champion has an executable plan that they feel confident in but remains flexible in their approach if the situation requires it. The Champion likes competing for the sake of competing. The Champion is excited to do battle for the sake of the battle.

The Champion does not always win (however one defines winning in their own context), in fact most Champions lose with incredible frequency. Champions are not immune to the sting of a loss and definitely do not like how it feels when they experience a loss. But Champions move on quickly. They may use the past as fuel or motivation but they don’t carry it around because that kind of baggage is heavy and who needs to carry that stuff around when you’re aiming at a new target?

The Champion is not perfect- in fact perfection is not the goal. The Champion is often flawed in their performance but they manage each flaw as a piece and not a reflection of the whole. The Champion just wants to be better than they were before.

The Champion does not quit even in situations where the odds of success are in a declining spiral. The Champion understands that it really is not over until it’s actually over.

The Champion wrestles frequently with the other people who show up at a race. The Champion is not immune to the pull of the Joker or the Bully or the Saboteur or the Neurotic or the Hulk or the Excitable or the Overwhelmed or the Worrier or the Doubter. The Champion is often a collection of all of these people or perhaps they are a relic of the Champions’ past. But the Champion is conscious. And with consciousness there is choice.

Who are you? Or are you a little bit of everyone? And if you were conscious of these behaviours who would you choose to be?

About Jasper

Jasper is an Ironman Champion and professional athlete turned coach and entrepreneur. He also has a passion for the philosophical and creative side of life. This is his personal blog.

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