I have a feeling that tomorrow will be better is quite different from I resolve to make tomorrow better. -Angela Duckworth

Dr. Duckworth’s quote is meaningful to me, and I believe that this is an important concept for anyone who has lofty goals to understand.

For a runner, it’s important to be optimistic and to feel like your next season will be better than your last. It is even more valuable to take responsibility and make choices that will increase the probability that your next season will be better, to increase the likelihood that you will improve.

An example I think about a lot (because I worry about you!) is an injury. If an athlete has been dealing with an injury that resulted in some missed practices or races during a season, it is tempting to think ‘that injury won’t happen again next season, I could not be so unlucky to have that same thing happen again.’ That attitude is positive and optimistic, but the athlete is not taking responsibility for the improvement. The athlete is simply hoping that the next season will be better. Hope is not a strategy.


On the other hand, the athlete could resolve to work and make it more likely that the next season will be injury free. The athlete could start a process of rehab and prehab to strengthen the troublesome body part to reduce the probability of an injury returning. Monta Vista athletes have many resources they could utilize. For example:

  • Our trainer Javier Margarito would work with athletes in the off-season to design and supervise programs to strengthen problem areas.
  • Many of our families have excellent medical coverage and we could seek out our doctor’s advice. Often, athletes can get referrals to physical therapists that can help address areas of pain and weakness.
  • Our own physical therapist, Irina Stiasny, could work with Monta Vista athletes.
  • Chris Hallford and Bree Lambert are personal trainers that have worked with many successful Monta Vista athletes (Bridget Gottlieb, Julia Chang, Rohan Choudhury, Pearl Law, Sunny Shan, Jenny Xu and others) with good results.

All of these resources do require commitment on the part of the individual athlete. If an athlete needs help, they can take the initiative to go to Javier, or their parents, and ask for help. More importantly the athlete needs to commit to doing the work, being on time to appointments, and being consistent in order to achieve the goal of improvement. (Consistency and reliability and dedication are important parts of the equation, when you ask for help. Javier is going to be more supportive of athletes that come to him with dedication, athletes that commit to a schedule are present and ready to go at the agreed-upon time. Parents are going to be more likely to support driving kids around and paying for sessions when they see that the athlete is following up and doing the work, consistently. When someone asks for help but then doesn’t follow up, doesn’t manage their time and ends up working on some other project or just goofing off, no one is motivated to expend effort to help.)

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It is important to resolve to be better next season, not simply hope to be better next season. Optimism is an important part of improvement, but optimism and hope does not replace miles and pace. It’s hard to reasonably believe that the next season will be better than the last season if an athlete is not willing to run more miles, and run those miles faster, than what they have done in the past. If we do the same training as we did in the past, can we realistically expect improvement? On the other hand when we resolve to run more miles and run those miles faster, we resolve to improve next season—we have resolved to make tomorrow better.

None of these actions—rehab/prehab, mileage, pacing, other training and work, healthy eating, sleep—guarantee that next season will be better than the last. Unfortunately, sometimes we work really hard and tangible results don’t come right away. However by resolving to do our best, and resolving to make changes in the way we prepare for and approach the next season, we are taking more control over our own destinies and not leaving our future up to hope and chance. We have to keep the faith that our efforts will, eventually, be rewarded.


And no matter what, I believe that we should be proud of our own efforts and proud of our teammates who demonstrate the willingness and dedicated to put in the work to make the future better.

As a coach, clearly I want to motivate you to work hard and have great seasons—I love seeing you run well, I love seeing you set PRs, I love seeing you win medals, I love seeing our teams do well together! More importantly, it’s important to see young adults leave Monta Vista determined to have successful and meaningful lives. Lives that make the world better. I believe that MVXC and MVTF are great places to help ingrain habits that will make us all more successful, individually and as a team and a society.


Understanding the difference between hoping for improvement and resolving to work towards improvement is important for an athlete’s success. The more important opportunity for a high school athlete is to start training ourselves to make tomorrow better across the board—in academics, in work, in life. This sense of pride and control over our futures, our ability to influence our tomorrows and not simply hope that tomorrow will be better, is important to our success and is essential to our day-to-day decisions to work hard. This matters whether we are thinking about working hard to improve for the next cross country season, working hard to improve our mathematics or Spanish or artistic abilities, working hard to be better at our careers, or simply working hard to be a better friend.

Taking responsibility for our future matters.