After a big meet

Dear Katrina,

I just finished my biggest meet of the season, the Olympic Trials. I didn’t do what I wanted. How do I deal with that?

As the Olympic Trials came to a close,  some people leave the meet feeling elated for having their breakthrough moment, for making the Olympic team, or doing a best time. Meanwhile, others might have wished for a different outcome: they might have just missed making the team, they might have even made the Olympic team in one event but had hoped for another event, or an individual swim vs. a relay swim, or are dealing with the reality that they did not reach their ultimate dream (whatever that might be), at least in this given moment.

Coming short of our ultimate goal IS painful, especially when we gave it our best, and committed to our dream. It is important to grieve the loss of something we wanted. Similarly, at the end of a career, or a season, we also experience the “ending” of something special.

Change is constant in life. That is guaranteed. Even the President of the USA can only be that “role” for 8 years total, at best.

We all get to appreciate what we do in our careers, and also acknowledge the reality of what did occur too. For people who were very close (sometimes less than .1 second) to making it, it can be a crushing blow. Many know that on another given day, they might have made the team. The key is to honor the performance they did have, what went well, and what can be learned from it.

If you have a lot of feelings coming up, take time to write them down in a notebook. Let them all out. Sometimes, just doing this, will free you up to have a bigger perspective on the situation.

You might realize that you know you did your best, but just wanted a better outcome. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Look at the good in EVERYTHING that you do. Know that you will be and can be okay, even in the face of adversity. You might review your experience, how you trained, how committed you really were, how you raced, and if there is anything you can change in the future to be better than your former self.

If your next big meet is now the Olympics, you get to assess what you loved about the Trials and what you can improve upon. Take time to bask in the glory of making the team! This IS a special moment, one you will cherish for the rest of your life. Meanwhile, take time to shift gears and reset your goals (if you haven’t already) to what you can create for yourself in London.

Acknowledge that going after what you want, committing to a big dream is a beautiful process. To be doing something you love, and committing to the unknown is a gift – not always an easy one, but one that is much more fulfilling than never having gone for it all.

Keep doing what you love, and be willing to stay on your path, as you stay true to who you are.




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About Katrina Radke

Katrina Radke, MFT, is an internationally recognized Olympian, therapist, college psychology instructor, and a peak performance and health coach for many fields, including business, sport psychology, fitness, wellness and nutrition. She is a motivational speaker for corporate, educational and public events, and works with top physicians and health professionals. She …

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