Women Supporting Women - National Mentor Month
Posted on January 21 2020
January is National Mentorship Month. I’m sure you’ve been planning for this all year, waiting to hang up your National Mentorship Month decorations - just kidding. I know, I know, it’s another one of those “holidays that aren’t real holidays” type of thing.
Normally, I don’t pay much attention to “National _____ Month” designations. I mean, it’s always national chocolate month and national spoil your pet month in my household, ya feel me?! But National Mentorship Month got me thinking about how extraordinarily lucky I am to have a boatload of mentors in my life, on and off the race course.
Let’s back up, though, and first talk about what a mentor is and isn’t in the context of triathlon.
A mentor is someone who is there to help you move through your training. This can mean offering emotional support, answering questions, and affirming that it is ok, in fact, to eat two pizzas by yourself in one sitting after a big swim set.
A mentor is not a coach in the sense of providing workouts, heart rate zones, or FTP tests. A mentor is not a nutritionist, physical therapist, or doctor, even if the mentor holds one of those positions as a career.
Put simply, a mentor is a great friendship with the added bonus of advice, reassurance, and emotional support.
When I joined the Coeur community four years ago, I had no idea the relationships I would make and the mentors I would gain.
Take, for example, Ellen Wexler of HardCoeur Coaching. Ellen has not only been an incredible friend to me, but has mentored me in my approach to gratitude, racing, and work/life tradeoffs.
Did you know our sisters at HardCoeur will be at our Training camp?
I remember telling Ellen that I was beyond frustrated at having missed my Kona slot multiple times in a row, coming tantalizingly close, only to drop the ball during the marathon portion of an Ironman. I remember telling her how I’d “never be a good runner” and how “everyone else has it figured out.” I was ardent in my statements to her, but she reacted as cool as a cucumber, to her credit!
Through our chats and even a long run together, Ellen was one of the most influential people when it came to reshaping how I approached the sport. Ellen helped me learn that when the passion is externally focused (i.e. I want a medal for first place), the results will never come, and even if they do, they will never feel like enough. BUT - when passion is internally focused (i.e. I want to see how much I can get out of myself), it is easier to feel grateful, to be present, and be connected with process and not just the finish line.
Ellen is one of many incredible women (and a few awesome male allies, too!) who have helped and are still helping me become an increasingly better version of myself. I’m pretty darn grateful.
This begs the question: where does one find a magical unicorn of their own to call “mentor”? Since you can’t just waltz into a Mentor Shop and pick one out, here are a few good places to start: local tri club, Masters swim, local bike shop, an ambassador team like Coeur’s, running club, yoga class… you get it. The opportunities are easy and also endless.
If you’re not comfortable asking outright: “Will you be my mentor?” (Which, I totally get. It’s a bold move!), try asking that magical unicorn potential mentor to grab coffee, to join you for a run, or to share with you their experience in racing, training, work/life assessments over a good meal.
Think you’ve got some sage wisdom to share with the world? The same goes for you, potential mentors! Look for mentoring opportunities at local activity groups and training teams. Be forthcoming with advice, anecdotes, and smiles. Offer up your highest highs and lowest lows to show that we’re all human. Take a special athlete under your wing and help her have her best season yet through mentorship.
Strong women raise strong women. One of the best ways to support women in sports is to raise up other women in sports. We can’t wait to hear about all the ways you come up with to support mentorship in your community. Until then, see you at the pool, spin class, and track!
About the Author
Kristin is a part-time writer and full-time marketer in higher education who has completed seven Ironman races to date. When she isn't hustling from work to training, she is hiking in the Colorado mountains, spoiling her two cats, or asking her boyfriend if he'll go pick up some pizza. Kristin currently resides in the Greater Denver Area. Feel free to drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org