This past Saturday at the Meeting de Paris IAAF Diamond League Track Meet, American Ryan Hill ran the 3rd Fastest 3,000m time in US History, running 7:30.93. This is not just an outstanding run for Hill, but is even more amazing if you consider it took place after a disappointing 6th in the 5,000m Olympic Trials, an event that he was favored to make the team on. Yesterday, Hill was interviewed by in an article discussing how has he has been using anger as a way to fuel his training after a season that had not been what he hoped [to read the full article, click HERE].

But his comments and results in Paris made me realize that he has not taught us a lesson in training with anger, but how to deal with and overcome disappointment. Let’s look at how he did it:  

Don’t Let Disappointment Break You – Let it Drive You

Hills comments on how he started to train 'angry in every core session and double' since the Trials, says a lot about how we can learn from disappointment. Many of us will get angry after something devastating, and allow it to move us into a place that is not productive or helpful. Maybe training stops, or if it continues, it doesn’t go the way that it should. But disappointment didn’t break Hill – it is driving him. There is no question that anyone who trains for something every day for four years and doesn’t achieve their goal will be down on themselves for a bit. But getting back to work and getting ready for the next challenge is something that takes toughness and a strong ability to re-focus. Being tough does not just mean to muscle through workouts when you are tired, it means that you are ready to bounce back from adversity, then having the awareness to re-focus on what your real original goals are.

Don’t Lose – Learn

I have written about this a lot in the last few weeks – and specifically have talked about ways to be a learner and not a loser [you can read that article HERE]. As we just spoke about, coming back from disappointment means that you let it drive you to the next challenge. In several ways, it moves you from being a loser to a learner. Learners, when defeated, examine what happened, figure out what they could have done better, and get back to work so they can be better. Losers sulk and pout about how the outcome went, whether it was there fault or not. Learners talk to their support team of coaches and family members [just like Hill did in his conversations with his Coach Jerry Schumacher] and make the best decisions moving forward. Moving on is not just about them, it is about getting feedback from their support networks and making the decision that is best for all parties – whether it is in an individual sport or a team sport.

Remember that Courage inspires Hope

Getting up after you fall is a hard thing to do, and of all people who should understand this - it's Hill. As he trained with anger, he still had hope that the results of his 3k in Paris would end up the way that it would. He could have given up, but sometimes not giving up takes courage. It takes courage to not let your emotions to get a hold of you and still chase your goals. That courage will inspire you to still have the hope that good things are going to happen, just as it did for Hill. Hope only dies if you make the decision to kill it. It is up to you to take charge and have the courage not to dwell on your disappointments, but have the courage to keep on going.

Just as Matthew Centrowitz taught us lessons in Mental Toughness during his Gold Medal run [you can read our blog post about those lessons HERE], Ryan Hill has just taught us how to deal with disappointment. That no matter what happens, whether in sports or in life, you need to let your disappointments drive you, be a learner – not a loser, and remember that when you are courageous, you can still give your dreams hope. Just as Ryan Hills did.  

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