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I was going to write about setting up goals for the 2020 season. I was planning on reviewing SMART goals, updating an earlier article on writing and implementing goals. I was also going to discuss some of the pitfalls of setting resolutions as related to the SMART goals. But there's always some much written about goals this time of year. Why write the same thing again? So here's the link to the SMART goals. There's plenty of good information there to help you craft achievable goals.

Instead, I want to talk about rebuilding. It's never a comeback, as I've discussed before. The athlete who suffered the injury, had the layoff - what ever, is no more. We can't return to that athlete no matter how hard we try. Rebuilding isn't crafting a comeback, it's creating a new version of that old athlete. The athlete we are now building into is coming from a different place then the old identity. It's important to remember that the rebuilding process takes time. We can't just jump into high level training of the past. We have acknowledge where we are in life - physically and mentally. Then once we realize where the starting point is, we can start the process of rebuilding. One brick and workout at a time, each one gently placed where it belongs.

This process requires giving ourselves grace. It means standing amid the rubble of the prior identity - the athlete you were - and decide what you are going to take from that identity. It also means that you have know what to let go so you can start the process. Not every brick will be strong enough to support the new athlete you are building.

Grace means being aware of the struggles involved with rebuilding processes. There's the physical aspect of rebuilding. When the distance feels overwhelming, it's easy to look back at the history and get discouraged. Running 20 miles used to be easy, yet now I am struggling with 2 miles? Frustration leads to anger and then anger can lead to giving up the process. History is a harsh master if we don't temper exceptions. We don't remember the first time we tried running, when the goal was to make it to the end of the block. At that point, running two miles seemed unfathomable. We just see how things were before the extended break. Take a breath, remember the history of the old athlete, of how you struggled and how hard you worked to reach that 20 miles. It wasn't always easy, no matter what you think. Acknowledge the frustration of how the different paces feel, but remember that each easy and "slow" mile now is just another solid brick in the foundation. Try too soon to regain the speed of before and you end up using weaker bricks for the rebuilding process.

You also have to mentally give yourself permission to be frustrated. If the break was from a crash or other injury, there will be hesitation. Simple technical sections will be more intimidating - simply because of the fear of crashing again and re-injuring something. Don't hide the fear if you are riding with others. Tell them that you are worried about crashing, even if it is a simple feature. Ask for someone to spot you so you can build up the confidence needed. If you don't challenge the memories of a crash in a safe spot, with people around to help, you might never get over the mental blocks. But you need to give yourself grace throughout the process. You don't wake up one day after a crash and go "I'm feeling great! I can ride whatever I want." You wake up thinking that you want to try something a little harder, but then when you get to the trail, there's all kind of nerves. That is a normal part of the process.

So in 2020, as you work towards your resolutions and the wonderful SMART goals you crafted for your races, also remember Grace. You aren't the same athlete as last year regardless of what happened. The events of last year shaped who you are now and provide the framework for this year. There will be times you feel like a failure. Don't let those times destroy everything you've worked to rebuild.