Don't Be a Trucker Hat: Part II...




By Ruth Brennan Morrey


This sport is tough and I love it. I’d like to share 6 ways to increase your mental longevity in the sport to shed light now how to love the sport longer.

  1. PURPOSE. This is my #1 take home message. I’ve already spoken about this, but it’s worth mentioning again. KNOW your why. Write it down, put it on your fridge, and revisit daily.

  1. BE APPROACHABLE and KIND. When I walk into each and every pre-race pro meeting, I observe a sea of trucker hats, most with accompanying dark glasses. I feel like a sore thumb…like I am really different from ‘them’. There is a flash of fictitious possibility that somehow they know the sport better than I do, that they might be ‘better’ than me. Something about it gives the illusion of triathlon’s ME-ness. Thankfully, most of the professionals who wear trucker hats, even in their intimidating way, are truly FINE people who have the same fears and goals like you and me. Always remember, though, FAST ATHLETES are no better than anyone else on the race course, and it is our job, as the fastest competitors—pros and elite amateurs—to lend a hand, to smile and make eye contact with all competitors in the transition area or finishing shoot, to cheer on the last brave competitors, to say thank you volunteers, to show humility, and to be grateful to race directors. We are a big part of the culture, and we have to pass on and help sustain what makes it special. In return is a huge prize. Get out of our own worlds and give back, as serving others will alone sustain US....


  1. BELIEVE TO SEE. Don’t wait for something to happen in order to believe it CAN happen. Believe first, then you will see. In addition, don’t let other people’s judgments or even your own negative SELF-TALK PUNCTURE A HOLE in the LOVE of your JOURNEY. Most athletes in triathlon have a weak discipline. Know your weakness, but never get discouraged by it and never stop learning. For me, it’s my swim. I have saved a few actual quotes from others that used to bother me, but I now I won’t let them intrude on my performance. That’s MY choice that I OWN.

    • You have such low body fat, you will never get faster.”

  • Just give it more effort, and I bet you would be a different swimmer in 3 months.”

  • Your race would be a lot more exciting if you took off 5 minutes off your swim.”

  • All you need is an emotional buy in, not swim instruction.”

    • I don’t know why you don’t just give up on it.”

    • Is that swim still struggling?”

    • It seems you have been working on that swim for quite a while now.”

Comments like these are pretty pathetic. These people have judged my process and have tried to define and deflate MY journey. They have no idea that I learned to swim at age 35, had several panic attacks in the beginning part of my AG years, have attempted a variety of swim methodologies, spent time away from my master’s group/support system to trust a coach’s plan (and got slower), have sought and truly enjoy endless independent learning opportunities, and that now…I actually LIKE swimming, which is a huge improvement . Most importantly, their judgments don’t reflect how my character, comfort, and skill HAS developed over the years.




And let’s be honest, these folks mean no actual harm, but it can shatter YOUR process if you start to believe them. Do not let such comments dictate your enjoyment or deflate your journey. Self-comparison is counterproductive. And don’t let your own negative self-talk get you down either. Your process is UNIQUE—let your ears and eyes be led only by those who support you unconditionally, those who are patient, those who don’t pass judgment on your journey’s potential, and those who truly care about your long-term process. Learn to love YOUR unique process.

  1. SET UP A SUSTAINABLE SCHEDULE. Fit triathlon into your life, not life into triathlon. A sustainable schedule, that still allows for family, movies, meditation, work, hobbies, and living a life outside of triathlon. Stress is stress, your body doesn’t know the difference so be cautious when trying to juggle it all. Imbalance quickly leads to burnout. In addition, your life balance provides critical inner joy and calm. Improvement is MUCH more likely when you have genuine, raw life happiness. You could move away from your family, go to month long camps, quit your job, and you would probably improve a great deal. But, you would likely be miserable, and having happiness and joy is the only way to compete well. Keep your life balanced and slow down.

  1. PROCESS OVER RESULTS. We hear this over and over. In 2017, I trained for 9 months for a massive race in Germany called Challenge Roth. My entire season was built around this iconic event. For those who don’t know, Roth is the KONA of the Challenge series. One month before the race I became injured, but I crossed trained by water running to maintain form and fitness. Thinking that I was healed up enough, I traveled to Germany one week before the race in stellar shape. However, we tested the injury one day before the race, and realized I wouldn’t be able to compete. I could have cried, whined, and pleaded about how it was all such a waste. Rumination about how I trained so hard for Roth, had incredible fitness, endless morning sessions, so much time away from family, $ spent, and how “I don’t have anything to show for it”, is quite frankly a load of garbage. Process is NEVER a waste. Hard work is NEVER a waste. Total and complete ALL IN commitment is never a waste, even if you don’t have anything to show for it. Outcomes change your resume, but PROCESS changes your character. It is always worth it.

If your sole “LIKE” about triathlon is winning and succeeding, let me tell you…you NEED something more robust to sustain yourself for your mental longevity in triathlon. I hope you will wear your trucker hat for years to come and have the solid foundation and mindset to SOAR through any challenge that temporarily blocks your path. Stay the course, find your purpose, be kind, stay balanced, believe in yourself and the process, and you WILL KEEP succeeding beyond your wildest dreams. Congratulations to all of tonight’s award winners. Well deserved.


0 #1 Kevin Oconnor 2018-02-21 16:42
Ruth is the bomb! I love racing WITH her. Even if my time is barely faster than her, we all know she races better than I. But I would argue I enjoy our competitions even more than her. She is respected and appreciated by all the athletes in MN. I am proud to call her a friend. Like the other impressive ladies who we know from racing, Heather Lendway, Carrie Tollefson, and Gwen Jorgenson; every word spoken, and action taken, are inspiring to us all.

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