April 14, 2009

Tips for hopeful athletes

You are NOT a superhero.

In my life, I can do one thing well at a time, and hence, the time allocation part of my day is vital. Everything has its place and if that’s missing everything seems to be a mess, like 10 colors of clay mixed together. My definition of “well” is world-class, and this might not be your goal. Define what “well” means to you. My goal is to be world-class in what I do – marketing, branding, coach, athlete, boyfriend. I may not achieve this with every decision, but this is what my goal is and its what I’m continuously working towards. You will need to make choices if you want to perform relative to others. You are also going to have to make a habit out of doing things that your competition are unwilling to do. Lately I have been a bit lazy with the athletic side of these goals, but that’s all about to change again, as time has been allocated to once again be a world class athlete.
These habits need not be ‘evil’! Moderate exercise, eating well and getting enough sleep are probably the greatest areas for us to outperform in the long run (by not dying early). In the end, am I shooting for a short term performance or a long term wellness goal? Can’t I have a bit of both?

Obligation to think

Hiring a coach does not remove your obligation to think. I am always encouraging my athletes to think for themselves – to remember what certain heart rates “feel” like. To NOT push the first 30min on the bike. I think the majority of nutrition problems at Ironman level come from a lack of good thinking by the athletes.

I see this all the time – changing nutrition plans leading into the race, putting products you may be intolerant to in your race plan, pushing the first 30min on the bike and wondering why your stomach cant process food in hour 10 and onwards. Your decisions ultimately relate to your overall performance, and a coach cant be responsible for all your decisions.

We are all inherently programmed to know right from wrong. Its your obligation to tune into that frequency in all areas of your life.

Schedule your life.

”Your training must be consistent with your life situation and, taught to me by Molina, the time you have to train has no impact on human physiology.” – Gordo Byrn.

Your competition does not care about your schedule. We don’t get to set the rules of engagement. If you can build a program around your life situation, you are already 90% of the way to your potential. Don’t begrudge the guy who has to work 4 hours a day. He has made choices to get there. He surely doesn’t care that you are working 9 hours a day. Work with what you have and make that work for you.

Slower athletes might be smarter than you.

You are going to need a lot of help to achieve ambitious goals. Probably the #1 mistake athletes make (myself included) is ignoring the possibility that a “slow” person might have something to teach them. Triathlon embodies this form of intellectual arrogance — I was a poster boy for it! It was only once I stopped preaching and started listening that I improved beyond my own expectations. I learn as much from the athletes I coach as I do from the books I read. The 13-15 hour athletes carry lessons for us 9 hour guys if we can just let our egos go for a second.

Avoidance tactics.

Keep track of the choices that you make that result in self-sabotage. Here’s a few of mine:

• Sleeping past 6:30am
• Coffee after 3pm
• Getting loaded with undue stress.
• Overeating on starch/sugar
• Switching training sessions around
• Getting to bed after 10:30pm
• Shooters. I have been known to enjoy a Tequila or two, on occasion.

They are small individually but if any of the above becomes a habit then my productivity will plummet and I am a lot less likely to achieve my goals. It might be my personality, but I have an easier time nurturing my good habits than trying to prevent others which may not be so good for me.

That would fall under the “work at your strengths” banner, instead of the “combat your weaknesses” one. I personally find that when my good habits are in order and being reinforced, the bad ones seem to dissipate as there isn’t space for them to manifest into what essentially is a jam packed schedule for life.

One Comment on “Tips for hopeful athletes

April 14, 2009 at 2:05 pm

I totally agree with you.
That is what I’m doing now to improve both my current life and future participation in Triathlon events.

You couldn’t have said it any beter.



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