How do you celebrate success?

I was lucky enough to go to the Training Peaks Endurance Coaching Summit in November and the key note speaker was multiple Ironman World Champion Chrissie Wellignton.

In the Q&A one of the members of the audience asked her if she had any regrets about her career. She listed two regrets as not celebrating her successes enough, even when she won the World Championship and second not looking after her holistic health which is a great topic for another blog.

This really resonated with me and for a number of years I’ve made a special effort to celebrate my achievements.  Part of my race planning includes some thought about how I will mark the occasion of a significant events in my life as an athlete.

It can also help to stop feeling that you’re not good enough. Most athletes are ambitious with goals that they’re constantly working towards. Today you made a 27minute 5km which you’ve been working towards for several months.  But you don’t stop to feel good about that because there other people in your club that are faster than you and now you want a 24 minute 4km. 

It’s great to want to continue getting better and growing as a person and an athlete, but if you never take a moment to celebrate your achievements then it can contribute to feeling like a failure and does not reinforce positive feelings.

This is a mindset that I fall into and if I’m not careful it can be quite unproductive and has previously left me with a negative attitude towards sport as I’m  never satisfied with what I’ve achieved. 

These days I’ve learned to make the time to celebrate my achievements however big or small and I feel much more positive about my athletic activities.  

It’s also something I discuss with the athletes I coach in advance of a big event and is a great strategy helping to avoid the lull after a big event which can often lead to low mood and or a “post event depression” like feeling (Ironman blues).

Here are some ideas from my own experience and from athletes I coach of ways to celebrate success and acknowledge achievements.

  • Be sure to pose for a finish line photo with your medal and if it’s not that sort of event, find somewhere to pose for a finisher’s photo
  • Share your achievement with the world and post it all on social media!!!! Occasionally sharing a significant achievement is not boasting, bragging or showing off! But Owning it!
  • Collect an item from your event and keep it with you as a reminder for however long you need to. For swimmers this is often a pebble from the beech in France, a wrist band you collected on the last lap or your run or your finisher medal.
  • Champagne! Take a moment to open a bottle of something special, share it with some friends and toast your success.
  • Get a tattoo! Of course many Ironman athletes get a tattoo, but I also have a marathon swimming client who has several swimming related tattoos to mark different significant swims
  • Dinner! After an Ironman or other long event I look forward to a special dinner the day after. If I’m abroad then I’ll have researched a special restaurant I’d like to visit and have saved the visit until after the event.  It seems like a small thing but it’s something I always really enjoy.
  • Buy a T-shirt, jersey or other item of clothing: It seems like a small thing but this really works for me and I have a couple of items of clothing I bought after particularly tough events – a very special Galibier cycling jersey which I worked very hard for and a red hoody from a particularly brutal triathlon
  • Buy something expensive that you’ve always wanted……like a new bike or a new set of wheels.
  • Have a thank you party! I often invite some key training partners and support crew round for dinner and a few drinks a few weeks after an event
  • Frame your finisher’s medal, race number and finisher’s photo. Or in the world of marathon swimming get your swim chart framed.
  • Make a video or slide show of all your photos and memories from the event. Have a look here and here
  • Own your success: Wear your medal, finishers t-shirt and merchandise with pride at least the next day or on the way home. And when the check-in lady at the airport asks you about it – respond with pride! Rather than being shy and embarrassed.
  • Write a post-race review: listing all the things that went well and all the things you can learn from for next time
  • Write a race report and share it with your club mates
  • Slow down and make sure you have some mental time and space after your event to reflect, review and savour the experience.
  • Revisit your achievements in a visualisation capturing all the feelings, senses and thoughts.
  • Take an extra day off work to do something you enjoy but don’t often have time for (go for a spa, get a massage, have your nails done, read a book).
  • Plan a post event holiday.

Do get in touch to let me know how you’ve celebrated your achievements and of course share a picture!