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“Avoiding early season setbacks” is a common theme on triathlon, cycling, running, etc. publications/websites at this time of year. While it is only the last week in January, some of you might still be receiving this advice a little too late. Additionally, many people follow all the rules and do all the right things only to find themselves in the exact same place.

Ok, so here you are. You made all these fantastic plans for this upcoming season. You were going to eat right, train hard, recover better and, most importantly, go faster. Then all of a sudden you get sick, you get injured, you get overworked, or just generally get off track. At any rate, your idea of a perfect season has slowly drifted away. If, and when, this occurs, you should do your best to keep the following in mind:

1. The perfect season does not exist. When you sat down to write out your season plans and goals you might have forgotten that no season in the past has gone perfectly according to plan. No matter how well we plan or how hard we try, we will never be granted a perfect season simply because life does not work in a vacuum. “Perfection” is ultimately subjected to our reactions to life’s curve balls. Always doing our best, in every given scenario, is all we can ask ourselves.

2. Stay in the moment. If you find yourself recovering from an illness, injury, or some other life circumstance, it is important to stay in the moment. Do not get caught up in missed opportunities and be wary of trying to ‘force fitness’ with constant ‘make-up sessions.’ Instead, consider what got you here in the first place and make the appropriate decisions that will help you get back on top of your game.

3. Success, in racing or otherwise, happens in spite of bad things occurring. “Bad things occurring” mean this: people who succeed don’t have better ‘luck’ than you or me. This is somewhat of a continuation of my first point, but I think it deserves some extra emphasis. Every time I have let my ‘bad luck’ get the best of me I have lost the race before the gun even went off. My bad attitude would not even allow me the chance of having any level of success. Do not let the same thing happen to you; as I said before: do your best no matter what.

When life challenges you, just smile and get back out there. As trite as it may sound, we cannot control what happens to us; we can only control our reaction(s).