If No One Shows Up, Do You Still Win?

It’s like that age-old question, “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it still make a sound?” Okay, so maybe it’s not that deep, but it’s an important question that a lot of racers ask themselves, and actually may extend far beyond racing, and into life in general.  Not clear what I’m talking about? Let me explain.



Scenario one: You run a 5K race and come in third in your age group, only to find out there were only three people in your age group.

Scenario two: You win a local race and then realize the woman who won it last year (who beat your time by 6 minutes) isn’t there.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve congratulated someone on a race result only to have them start immediately belittling themselves about why they did so well – “It wasn’t my best time but I guess the fast girls didn’t show up,” or “It was a really small race so…”  I’m guilty of this too and I should stop. I work hard and should be proud of your accomplishments, no matter who shows up! In sports, a “W” is a “W” no matter what, right?

If you don’t already know, scenario two is pretty much what happened to me at the Ten Penny Ale Duathlon this Spring.  Six minutes in racing is an eternity. However, in this year’s race, the top three women were all within 10 seconds of each other.  I try not to think about who didn’t show up, but I can’t help it.

Here’s another scenario; in a 5K last summer I went the wrong way on the course and ended up coming in third in my age group when I was on track to win.  I was super pissed off at first, until a friend brought my ego down a million miles, and told me what a better story it was, and always winning is boring. We all need friends like her.

What that race taught me was, the fast girls can all show up, but in any given race, even the top athletes can have a colossal fail and fall short of winning or placing.



How many times have you received a promotion or bonus only to downplay the reasons why you were chosen/received it?

I’ve had numerous experiences myself and conversations with others (mostly women) giving similar excuses like “Well, it’s not that big of a deal,” or “there wasn’t a lot of competition for the position.”  Again, why can’t we just accept full credit for a job well done?


How many of you take a compliment well?  How about this:

Girl one: Wow, you look great in that dress!

Girl two: Are you kidding me?  I hate the way I look in this, but I was running late so I just threw it on.

Exactly.  Why can’t we just say “Thank you.” Maybe some of you can, but I know I have a very hard time taking a complement.  My husband loves watching me squirm when he tells me I’m beautiful or gushes over an accomplishment of mine.  It makes me physically uncomfortable.



This brings me back to my original question of “If no one shows up, do you still win?” which, I think I can answer now – YES, you still win and YES you still deserved that promotion and YES you actually do look gorgeous. Now, if you’re still obsessing about any of these things, then maybe you just need a good long run.

Do you sell yourself short when you accomplish something?

Do you take a complement well?

Have you ever gone the wrong way in a race before?


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  1. OMG yes!!! I do have a hard time accepting compliments or achievements. I have no idea why I do this. I actually had race scenario 1 happen to me before. I guess it is something we have to work on. Great post Allie!
    Kristina Walters @ Kris On Fitness recently posted…Fitness Do’s & Don’ts – Guest PostMy Profile

    1. We ALL do it and are working on it, but it’s soooo hard!! Thanks Kris!

  2. Oh man does this hit home for me. I am extremely guilty of not giving myself enough credit or downplaying an achievement. I don’t take compliments well. I accept them graciously but then always have an excuse or turn it around on the other person. Prime example is my husband. He always comes home from work and says “thanks for working so hard for us”…I in turn always say “no, YOU work harder than I do, thank YOU for working so hard for us.” Why can’t I just say thank you? And no, I have never gone the wrong way in a race before 😉

    1. I know!! I do say “thank you” to my husband but I feel like his work is more important because he gets paid a lot more then I do. Annoying.
      I’m so glad you’ve never gone the wrong way and I sincerely hope you never do!!!

  3. Yep – a win is a win!!!
    And, I’m not good with compliments – I can give them easily but accepting them is not my strong point.
    Kim recently posted…Side-to-Side (7/6-7/12)My Profile

    1. Why is it so darn hard?? Thanks Kim!

  4. I’m completely guilty of the race scenario – My 1st place AG wins have all been because the fast girls stayed home. 🙂

    I just spoke with a girl who actually WON (broke the tape and all) a marathon but then she adds, it was a really small marathon. STILL…YOU BROKE THE TAPE!!!
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted…Thoughts From a Long RunMy Profile

    1. Yes, this is EXACTLY what I’m talking about!!! I’m so glad everyone can relate. DO NOT downplay your 1st place wins. You must OWN it Angela!

  5. Showing up is winning in my book, so yes! Life is all in the stories.

    After losing weight, I really had to work on compliments. It took a while but I learned to say thank you or I’ve been working hard rather than shrugging off all the things I had been doing.
    Kimberly @ Healthy Strides recently posted…Runners on Parade 5K {A race recap}My Profile

    1. Oh absolutely showing up is a WIN! That’s probably the hardest part. Thank you for making that great point and kudos to you for recognizing that you should just say “thank you.” So darn hard though!!

  6. I love Kimberly’s comment that showing up is a win and that life lies in the stories. What a great perspective! I’m getting better about graciously accepting compliments. It’s tough, but it’s something I want my girls to see. I want them to grow up believing it’s ok to celebrate their accomplishments!
    Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama recently posted…Portuguese Prayer of the WoodsMy Profile

    1. I do too! This is why I love comments so much. You also make a great point about setting the example for your girls. Absolutely!!

  7. I still have a hard time with compliments even at this age and I think you are so right that we do sometimes sell ourselves short, because we don’t know any other way deep down. I am trying more now to see the good and positive in all scenarios and but still this little voice inside of me will creep up and try to put down even my best efforts. I think it is just human nature, but I do agree that we need to try better not to do this to ourselves, because we really I think do try the best to accomplish we are set out to do. Just my two cents.
    Janine Huldie recently posted…Swallow for The Perfect Anniversary CelebrationMy Profile

    1. Agreed Janine! That little voice should sometimes just be ignored 🙂

  8. In Houston I won an all women’s 10k when clearly there are many many faster women out there… it does feel like it makes a difference who shows up and that’s part of the story, but we can learn to celebrate regardless (and accept those compliments!)
    Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted…37 Weeks Pregnant Update + Guess the Due DateMy Profile

    1. Yes – celebrate regardless for sure!!! Thanks Laura and congrats on racking up the 10K win 🙂

  9. I can be super-awkward when receiving compliments. I’ve gotten better and find that simply saying thank you, instead of ‘humbly’ making less of it makes it a lot more comfortable.
    Jaclyn @ Bumpsweat recently posted…{MIMM #3} What’s Your ‘WHY’?My Profile

    1. Great point!!! It makes the other person uncomfortable at best, and hurt at worst, when you don’t just accept a compliment.

  10. I have not only gone the wrong way but at the first fitbloggin I attended in 2012 I went into the residential areas of baltimore, I totally followed a girl that wasn’t with our group! omg. LOL

    I am terrible at taking compliments and I have been trying to work on that. Even on friday when I went out to celebrate a birthday, my friend told me I looked good and I flipped her off, it is really something I need to work on, I am so confident at certain things like zumba but other things? I can’t accept a decent compliment. Like you said, I NEED to say thank you and call it a day!
    Nellie @ Brooklyn Active Mama recently posted…The Great Debate About Having ChildrenMy Profile

    1. OMG I am laughing so hard!!! Thank God I’m the only one home right now. I can so picture you just flipping someone off when they gave you a compliment – HA HA HA!!! That is so classic.
      As for your wrong turn – I’m just happy you’re alive!!!!

  11. I’ve been working on just saying thank you when I receive a compliment and not putting myself down at the gym, at work, and in my personal life. But it’s so hard!

    On the other side of the coin, I am also working on saying “no” without and explanation. I always have to explain why I am saying no, or cannot commit to doing something… but sometimes (read – MOST times) there is no reason to go all out and explain. Just saying no is enough.
    Kimberly (Manifest Yourself) recently posted…Summer Fun, Fashion and FitnessMy Profile

    1. Oh Kimberly – YES! That is a whole other blog post but I have a horrible time saying no too. I always feel like I have to justify my answer but really just saying no is enough!!!

  12. Honestly, just showing up makes you a winner. That said, I almost always down play my accomplishments and compliments. Ugh. They make me uncomfortable. How sad is that? On a happy note I’m working on and getting better at both 🙂
    jill conyers recently posted…Coconut Water to Hydrate and Treat Yourself WellMy Profile

    1. It’s not sad – it’s just true and that’s why so many people can relate!! At least you’re aware of it and are working on it!! As for racing – absolutely just showing up is WINNING! Agreed!

  13. Oh women put themselves down so much all the time! Men NEVER do that! What the heck!? I think we should definitely be proud of our accomplishments no matter what the reason is. I think it is especially true if you work hard for something! Own up to it and be proud!

    I actually think that blogging and social media kind of forces you to promote yourself so much more than you might normally. It’s a good way to practice bragging about yourself!
    Britt@MyOwnBalance recently posted…I’m Not Good At EverythingMy Profile

  14. If you eat a slices of cake(s) and no one sees you, do the calories still count?
    (this is a real question and I need you to get back to me with the answer)
    Yum Yucky recently posted…Greedy Recipe! Easy Cherry TurnoversMy Profile

    1. Absolutely not.

  15. I take compliments pretty terribly! And I’m always quick to give credit to anyone else who might have had anything to do with what I did.
    It is a little funny because if I do something and don’t get recognition, it drives me really crazy!
    Tamara recently posted…The Little Girl Who Lost Her Name.My Profile

    1. That is such a good point Tamara!! I definitely get upset if I don’t get proper credit, but then I don’t know how to take the credit either. Crazy!

  16. I have made a conscious effort to accept compliments when they are given, and I think I’m pretty successful. And as a non-racer, I have been tempted to turn around and go the wrong way when millions of other runners are passing me at the starting line. Ok, not millions. But a lot.
    Dana recently posted…Listen to Your Mother videos are live!My Profile

    1. Ha ha ha. I hear you. The scariest part of a race BY FAR is lining up. I hate the start!!!…but the finish line? Well, that’s a whole different story, right? 🙂

  17. I hear women do this ALL THE TIME (and I’m guilty of it as well). No matter what the compliment or accomplishment, we find some way to downplay it, to give someone else the credit, or to refute it entirely. I’m ready for more women to truly own their successes. You won that race, you got that promotion, and you’re rocking that outfit because you are AWESOME. End of story.
    Katie @ Pick Any Two recently posted…Are You Causing Your Toddler to Misbehave?My Profile

    1. YES!!! Now we just have to live it! Thanks Katie.

  18. Lol. As with anything in life, I try to always beat myself. If today I did my exercise for only 30 min, they tomorrow, I will try to increase the time. If I am always racing against myself, then I am always doing better. Yes it it good to have someone to compare agains but in the end it is always if I did better then the previous day.
    Lady Lilith recently posted…Rock n’ Roll UpdateMy Profile

    1. That is a great mindset. Personal bests are just that after all, right? Personal!!

  19. I am SO guilty of this. In fact, I was going to answer your reader question with, “I have totally gone the wrong way in a race — and still managed to win…. But it was a really small race….” Thanks for the reminder that it’t okay to own our accomplishments.
    Cassie @ Rural Running Redhead recently posted…Colorado Fall Classic Marathon Training: Week 6My Profile

    1. Look at you!!! That is too funny and also AMAZING!!!! Own it girl!

  20. I think it’s human nature to sell yourself short. I do it all the time!
    Michelle @ A Dish of Daily Life recently posted…Corn and Black Bean Salsa with Lime Vinaigrette {plus a Uneekee Lazy Susan Giveaway}My Profile

    1. Then most men are inhuman? ha ha ha 🙂

  21. I know I’m pregnant but I hate that my ass is so large. I KNOW.
    I, who advocate inner beauty and kindness and acceptance of how we look.
    And I have to remind myself to simply say, ‘thank you’ when someone tells me I’m looking good. 🙂
    Alison recently posted…20 StrangersMy Profile

    1. We all do it! No matter how much you want to feel differently, your mind isn’t always in control.

  22. The only thing that matters is that YOU showed up. I am trying to do a better job at accepting compliments and as far as accomplishments go…I’ll get there. Someday.
    Tara Newman recently posted…5 Tips to Help You Delegate (like a BOSS!)My Profile

    1. Me too 🙂

  23. Yep. Constantly downplaying achievements. Do men do this too? 🙂

    1. No men that I know!

  24. GREAT post Allie!!! Cant believe I have only just found this….somehow I missed it yesterday. This is SO true, and so important. This goes back to my constant battle with myself of wanting to say keep it up and good job to people I run by….but if I do….it is like I am patronizing them….which is my last intention….so I don’t. I definitely agree about even the fast athletes having a colossal fail….look at my marathon! I had 15 or so people email me after to make sure I was okay! THAT is how bad I looked those final few miles….not the at ease, gliding look that is expected of most elites.

    Thanks for sharing this, and I love that my name is one of the tags hahaha!
    Tina Muir recently posted…Adapting to Weather Changes: Running in the WindMy Profile

    1. OMG first of all, I know you wrote something a while ago about being in a BIG competition, but a lot of Britain’s “top” runners didn’t show up. I was going to include it in this post with a link back, but I couldn’t find it!? I guess I forgot to un-tag you! Please tell me I’m not insane! Second, it’s so hard to know if you should say something or not when passing other runners. I used to, but now I wait to see if THEY say something and, more often then not, they do and then I can respond with encouragement. Thanks Tina!

  25. I suck at taking compliments but I’m trying. I know that it’s almost rude to not accept someone’s expressions of their feelings about you with grace so again, I make a great effort in this arena.

    As I watch my child grow, I love the exuberance and the confidence he has about himself and his abilities in school and in sports and while I don’t want to dampen his belief in himself, I also believe that there’s something about being humble, accepting the world around you and knowing that there’s always someone better or worse than you are in so many ways. However, I don’t tell my child this because self-doubt will likely come as he grows and sometimes I wish I had his confidence – hell, everyone should have his confidence so I sit back and yes, tell him to be humble but I don’t take him down any pegs.

    It’s hard to have pride in whatever you excel in but it’s also shameful to belittle that talent needlessly.
    Melissa Burton recently posted…Tunes For Tuesday – The 70′s With Elvis CostelloMy Profile

    1. Having kids really puts all of this into perspective, doesn’t it? I also think boys react very differently. I have a cousin who isn’t that much younger then me, who is supremely confident even when it’s not warranted. It has helped become extremely successful and I always wish I had half of his confidence! I also LOVE you’re last line. It is SHAMEFUL!!! Thank you Melissa.

  26. Ha I totally had the happen at our local 5k race in May. I won first female overall. But I swore it was due to the fact that all the fast girls stayed home lol great post!!
    Jess@ Flying Feet in Faith recently posted…Tips & Tricks Tuesday: H20 to Go and Switching Plan GearsMy Profile

    1. Stop it!!! 🙂

  27. I pray for the day no one shows up in my age group so I can be the winner. 🙂

    I can say thank you when someone compliments me on my clothes but that’s about the only time I accept a compliment gracefully. Someone said to me on my Facebook page (personal) that I’m looking lean and the first thing I thought was…are you kidding me, you can’t see my stomach in that pic! I did contain myself from actually typing it out in a reply but if I would have received the compliment in person it would have spilled out.

    1. That is hilarious and yes, we all have answered FB in our minds the way we would in person. Maybe we should switch that around? What if everything you said in person was posted on FB??? Can you imagine? 🙂

  28. This is so me. When I won the All Star Teacher recognition – even being on TV at the game! – I still kept downplaying what a major deal it was. I guess because it’s hard to believe I actually did something to earn it?? I really need to just learn to take a compliment/achievement!
    Ali @ Hit the Ground Running recently posted…All Star Treatment TeaserMy Profile

    1. Absolutely! That is a HUGE deal and YOU did it. I can’t wait to read all about it…

  1. […] If No One Shows Up, Do You Still Win?  By Allie at Vita Train 4 Life  […]

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