Ah, another workout debate! (For more debates, check out: Do you acknowledge strangers when exercising outdoors?, When on a run, do you do a little jig at red lights or come to a complete stop?, Do you secretly race others at the gym?, No Men Allowed: What do you think about womenâ€™s races?, and Do personal records ever expire?).
The idea for todayâ€™s debate came to me during my recent triathlon. It was the bike leg, and I was slow. Slow. As. Molasses (if molasses ever rode on a bike). I was passed by about fifty other racers (not exaggerating) and did not pass a single other person. I was totally undertrained for the bike and am naturally pretty slow while riding anyway â€“ can I blame my super short legs?! â€“ so this was expected.
While riding past me, my fellow racers were very kind and considerate. â€œWay to go!â€ they would shout. â€œKeep it up!â€ or â€œYou can do this!â€ Other women would say, â€œYou go girl!â€ and zoom past me. The men would comment, â€œLookinâ€™ good, lady!â€ and zip away. I would wager that thirty out of the fifty people who passed me did so with an encouraging word.
So â€“ the first dozen remarks were really nice (I donâ€™t mean to sound ungrateful; I really did love it at first). â€œYES!â€ I thought. â€œI CAN do this. I AM kicking butt!â€ Every cyclist that rode by with a motivational chant left me feeling happy and pumped.
And thenâ€¦ the remarks kept coming. And coming. And coming. Thirty â€œYou can do itsâ€ in an hour and ten minutes. It started to wear on me. I got more and more tired; my legs felt heavy; it was hot; and â€“ shit â€“ I was really, really slow. There was no way for the nice people encouraging me to know that Iâ€™d already been â€˜upliftedâ€™ for being slow TWENTY NINE OTHER TIMES. By the end of the ride, I seriously wanted to throttle every sweet person zooming past me.
Donâ€™t get me wrong. I normally LOVE to be encouraged (and to encourage) during races. But maybe the key is not to encourage someone when youâ€™re kicking their ass? Maybe itâ€™s better to encourage someone who is roughly your pace but seems like they are struggling? For example, during the run leg, I ran with two other women for about half a mile. We told each other, â€œKeep it up, youâ€™re doing great!â€ and said things like, â€œI know this is hard, but we can totally do this.â€ The encouragement felt mutual and real.
As a side note â€“ whatâ€™s the most annoying thing youâ€™ve heard shouted out by a spectator at a race? My pet peeve is when people yell, â€œYOUâ€™RE ALMOST THERE!â€ and the finish line is, oh, two miles away. â€œAlmost there!â€ means you can see the finish line, in my opinion.
So â€“ what are your thoughts? How do you feel about mid-race encouragement? And does, â€œYouâ€™re almost there!â€ annoy you as much as it does me?