Tim Tebow is honey badger like... despite all of his detractors he puts his head down, plays football his way, and finds ways to win. I personally am not a fan of Tebow as a football player, but I am a huge fan of his character and his approach to sport. I have no doubt that Tebow is the hardest working player on the Broncos' line up. What Tebow lacks in talent (a lot) he makes up for in heart, dedication, and tenacity. Tebow exemplifies the Prefontaine quote that I hold so close to my heart, "To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift." It doesn't mean that you are the best, or that you will always come out on top, it just means that at the end of the day can you honestly say that you gave it 100%, win or lose.
"I'm glad you had that experience."
This is something I have repeated many times to the athletes I coach. When things don't quite go your way during a training session it is a prime learning opportunity. The "experience" could be having a panic attack during an open water swim, "bonking" during a long ride, or having terrible cramps during a run due to a poor nutrition choice. How you deal with adversity in training will prepare you for adversity during the real thing. Races rarely go as planned, so when you hit that bump in the road are you going to pack it up and call it a day, or are you going to be like the crazy nastyass honey badger and push through as if you don't give a s#!t?
One of the athletes I coach is the most Honey Badger-like person I have the pleasure of knowing. During a swim session she was paid a visit by her "monthly caller" while standing on the pool deck. She was embarrassed and could have run home and hidden her head under her pillow for a few weeks but instead she ran to the store and came back ready to swim. During a race she wrecked on the bike less than a mile in, climbed back on and finished the race the best she could. A few weeks ago she sent me her run data under the title of "A Crappy Run"... she meant that literally. She experienced extreme GI distress during her run to the point where she soiled herself. Again, she went home, changed, and finished her run. While these examples are extreme they speak to the tenacious nature of this athlete... and it has shown in her race results. She has truly given it her best each and every time and that best continues to evolve.
"It never gets easier, you just go faster." -Greg Lemond
Anytime I race I like to tell the people I coach/train about what I was going through physically and mentally. Not so they know how great I am, but to let them know that it never gets easier and that I am always engaged in an internal conversation in which I am willing myself along one step at a time. Just yesterday I raced in a local Turkey Trot. Going in I had no expectations, I have gained 5 pounds since my last race and I haven't done any speed work since then either... I am in the off season. When the gun sounded I started running and immediately my legs were burning and I felt exhausted. The entire first mile I questioned whether I would be able to finish. I passed the first mile mark at 5:48 so I was running a good pace, "Maybe I can do this for 12 more minutes...". The second mile was uneventful, I had settled into my pace and I reeled two people in, I was feeling "good". Beginning the third mile a kid blew past me, I tried latching on but knew it was futile... he was flying. A half mile from the finish someone started coming up from behind, I was going to be passed AGAIN!!! I was dying, completely red-lined. Finally I saw the finish banner, I reached deep down, and with every fiber of my being was able to muster up a last burst of speed to avoid getting passed. 18:27 was the final time, 11th overall and 1st in my age group... and it hurt the entire time!!!
It is this concept that I feel is the most important for any athlete to get. Once you have that "aha moment" you will never be the same again. The first time you overcome what you perceive to be insurmountable odds will change you forever, not just in sport, but also in life. Dig deep, push through, and act like honey badger just don't give a s#!t and success will be yours.