The defining moment for me happened last April.

My fellow Rapha Ambassadors and I were headed out for our final and longest day of riding. I looked around at my ride group and took inventory: “fast, fast, great climber, pro, fast, lives on the podium.” Out of everyone, I was the newest to cycling. I knew these ladies were faster than me, but the weekend had evolved into one of the Top 5 weekends of my life, so I was mostly relying on my endorphins and excitement to get me through the 64 miles ahead of us. We clipped in (the sound always gives me the chills) and took off into the sunrise as one big group. Less than 5 miles in, we came upon our first hill.

My heart started to flutter. I knew what was ahead. I was used to it.

I settled into my lowest gear, spinning at an easy cadence and focused on calming my mind. Just as my breathing becomes hard, my legs quickly become heavy. Happens every time. I’m inspired by the ladies in my group who are crushing it, holding a steady yet quick pace as they soon become tiny spots in the distance. Cynthia, who noticed I was trailing off the back, turned around to make sure I wasn’t riding alone (a very pro and selfless move, by the way).

I turned to her in between heavy breaths, “I’m sorry I’m going so slow. You don’t have to wait for me. I’ll catch up with you guys at the top.” The last thing I wanted to do was keep the group waiting for me every time we came upon a hill or slow down their pace, putting us behind schedule. In a stern but kind tone she said, “Kelly, I’m riding with you today. We’ll go your pace, whatever you want that to be. But I have one rule: no apologizing. For anything. You’re not allowed to say the word sorry.”

She was right. There was nothing to apologize for. I was out there doing what I loved — riding my bike with new friends and mentors, exploring unfamiliar territory and pushing myself. What was there to be sorry about? Throughout the rest of the ride, I struggled. As the day became hotter, the climbs became harder. Then we hit a nasty headwind and I was losing momentum. We rode as a team — better yet, a SQUAD — as they kept a pace I could hang onto. I sat on everyone’s wheel that day. Everytime I began to say “Sor…,” Cynthia cut me off almost immediately. She’s pro like that.

The day ended up being humbling, not to mention a true display of teamwork. From Jolene and Cynthia pushing me up hills (seriously, they are half my size), to Abby stating “If you’re in, we’re in” at the last 10 miles when I didn’t think I had it in me to finish, to the entire group waiting for me after a climb, then encouraging me take off on a sprint when I had the energy — I walked away with a new perspective on how I view and treat myself. I left that weekend replaying Cynthia’s words over and over in my mind. Then I came across this wonderful piece on self-deprication and the female cyclist. It hit home and took me back to that day in April on the bike. I thought about how many times I’ve said “I’m sorry” for things that simply don’t require an apology. Namely: pushing myself on the bike, stepping out of my comfort zone and trying something new, asking a question I don’t know the answer to, or declining an opportunity or viewpoint I don’t believe in.

While I do think there’s a certain courtesy when it comes to being transparent about your abilities so your group or instructor can keep an eye out, like, “I’m getting over the flu, so I’m going to ride my pace,” or “This is my first yoga class, so I’d love extra guidance,” there’s zero to be sorry about.

So here is my ask of you: let’s move away from apologizing when we’re out there trying our hardest and focus more on what you accomplished.

Didn’t ride as fast as you normally do on that road? That’s ok. You got out on your bike and made a healthy choice. Couldn’t keep up on the run with your pals who had to wait for you at the water stop? That’s cool too. You know how good it felt to see them there, so you’ll reciprocate when you’re faster than your pals. Channel your inner Cynthia when you’re working hard and keep sorry out of your vocabularly.

Be kind to yourself. Be honest with yourself. Be proud of yourself.
I mean, do you think Beyoncé apologizes for being amazing?
I doubt it.

image source 1 | image source 2 | image source 3

  1. 1
    Vanessa @ Living in Steil | September 16, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    This is a great post with a fabulous message! Sometimes you need to just be proud of yourself for giving it your all.

    • Kelly Krause | September 17, 2015 at 9:59 am

      Thanks Vanessa!

  2. 2
    nicole b. | September 16, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    Oh how I needed this. Thank you. And I’m so happy to see this kind of post on Camille Styles. I admittedly haven’t read the blog in awhile. But I’m grateful I happened upon it today. And, Kelly, you are mighty humble and totally pro {in my book} for being a Rapha ambassador. Serious squad goals. 🙂

    • Kelly Krause | September 17, 2015 at 10:00 am

      Haha, well thanks Nicole! More than anything, I’m glad it brought you back to the site and resonated with you.

  3. 3
    Camille Styles | September 16, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    Kelly, I have goosebumps!! This post speaks to every woman out there, athlete or not… I have a feeling that we all apologize (either verbally or just internally) more than we should. Thanks for inspiring us to not let the words “sorry” become a hindrance to just getting out there and giving our very best to everything we do. And owning it!

    • Kelly Krause | September 17, 2015 at 10:01 am

      Totally applies to everything in life, outside of being an athlete — agree!

  4. 4
    Chris | September 16, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    Kelly, thank you your wise and powerful words. As women we are so often inclined to apologize for not being enough in many arenas of life, even while doing our very best. I am inspired by your friends who quite clearly value you and and know how to encourage and support each other kindly.

    • Kelly Krause | September 17, 2015 at 10:01 am

      I got pretty lucky with these gals. I hope that this one will inspire everyone to not say sorry, or channel Cynthia, and cut their friends off, too.

  5. 5
    Katie H. | September 16, 2015 at 9:54 pm

    I really needed this today. Thank you, Kelly!

    • Kelly Krause | September 17, 2015 at 10:04 am

      So glad! You’re welcome.

  6. 6
    Elna | September 17, 2015 at 1:29 am

    Oh, I love what you wrote, I think I’ll bookmark it for one of those days when I catch myself with endless apologies. Happy I found your blog by the way, really like it. Ride on! /Elna, Swedish blogger and cyclist

    • Kelly Krause | September 17, 2015 at 10:04 am

      Thanks Elna! Remind me to reach out to you if my cycling adventures ever take me to your part of the world.

  7. 7
    rosa | September 17, 2015 at 3:42 am

    Thank you for writing this post. I am five months into running and I’m slow, awkward, and almost always out of breath. Sometimes, even when I’m super proud of my accomplishments (i finally can run! i’ve done 2 10km runs and 1 16km run already!), I can’t help but feel inadequate and almost always end up apologizing. This is a good reminder that kindness begins with being kind to one’s self.

    • Kelly Krause | September 17, 2015 at 10:03 am

      Five months into running — that’s a huge feat, congratulations — enjoy all of it.

  8. 8
    Aino Hyyryläinen | September 17, 2015 at 8:22 am

    What a great message in this post! I recently completed the Tough Viking obstacle run with my friends, and I was the slowest in my team. I felt like apologising all the time, because my friends waited for me at every obstacle. But you’re right – there’s nothing to be sorry about, if you’re doing what you love and stepping outside your comfort zone. I need to get better at being kind with myself.

    • Kelly Krause | September 17, 2015 at 10:02 am

      Congratulations for completing such a crazy run — that is wonderful!

  9. 9
    Annabelle | September 17, 2015 at 10:25 am

    I’m not a cyclist but this was truly moving and helpful. Thank you

  10. 10
    Brooke Porter | September 17, 2015 at 11:33 am

    Love this! As a turtle paced runner I used to always apologize for being the slow one. Then I just decided to embrace it and doing so has helped me enjoy running and improve my pace!

  11. 11
    Marina | September 18, 2015 at 10:03 am

    This was an absolutely awesome post, thank you so much for writing it! Not only am I a slow cyclist but I am riding a recumbent trike and feel the constant need to apologize for my speed/hill climbing and then this weird thing that I am riding as well. When really I should be proud of what I AM able to achieve, I have this constant nagging thought that I should be faster, that I am holding the person riding with me up (My husband) and forget group rides with others, I am way too self conscious! I will definitely make more of an effort to be kind to myself, and stop comparing myself to others.

  12. 12
    Ani | September 18, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    love the jersey in the first photo the tan white and black one. Please let me know who makes it.

  13. 13
    Susie Powis | September 25, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    As a newbie this Summer this has come at the right time for me to read. After a killer 80km ride on sunday i found myself saying sorry to my partner for slowing him down as he had to wait for me at the top of every hill. The fact was I WAS riding up the hills, slowly but i got there. This has made me feel very emotional as I was thinking am I ever going to get better? and if I don’t it actually doesn’t matter.
    Thank you for a great piece.

  14. 14
    latoya | October 17, 2015 at 6:58 am

    I do all the time. I get so upset at myself when I do. I think why are uou saying sorry and you did nothing wrong but ask a question, or wait to move through a croud.

  15. 15
    Heather Felgner | January 10, 2016 at 8:06 pm

    I too constantly apologize, whether I can’t keep up with my friends on a run, my family when we are playing a game and I mess up, or just simply for saying a joke/ random thought that popped into my head. I always have people asking me, ” why are you sorry” honestly I always reply back that I have no idea. So thank you for the inspiring words that will now have me channeling my inner Cynthia! 🙂

  16. 16
    Tom | April 16, 2017 at 7:26 pm

    Great, quick read, I’m the same way, I’m sorry is unnecessary, you’re doing a great job.

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