Friday, April 4, 2008


One degree and snow here today - the same weather in Victoria would guarantee people in the streets taking pictures. We have a Training Day on Sunday, hopefully with our first outdoor ride of the year. We ended our adaptation a little early this week, as everyone is looking fresh and ready to go. The main set in the pool this morning was 2x(20x50@0:50" best average, 1st round swim, 2nd round paddles). This afternoon we'll hit the treadmills (UofGuelph has 5 Woodways) for a bit of speed work.

We've been having some conversations around these parts over the last few weeks about truly committing yourself to achieving your goals. It's easier said than done, and for most athletes (and most people), it's easier to hedge your bets and give a good effort rather than giving your best effort. Maybe it hurts less if you fail and you haven't really given everything you've got - but who wants a legacy like that?

Giving your best when things are going well is relatively easy, but to consistently give your best effort is difficult (note: don't confuse 'best effort' with 'hard effort' - being your best also means maximizing recovery, committing to a healthy diet, managing your schedule, etc). For most athletes this means simplifying their life outside of sport, truly committing to sport excellence on a daily basis, and (most importantly) letting go in workouts. When athletes stop worrying about the next set, or the next workout, and just live in the moment, great things happen. When effort is valued over outcome, when athletes aren't afraid to fail in front of each other, and when blowing up in a set is more honourable than saving up and smashing the last interval, everyone benefits. Physically, the training stimulus is greater, socially, the training group is stronger, and mentally, the athletes are more prepared for whatever gets thrown at them in a race. You can't just flick a switch and be tough on race day, you need to train toughness, day in and day out.

Maybe some of you have seen the following quote (generally credited to Goethe):

"Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now."

On the surface, it's a good motivational quote, and it gets used a fair bit in sports. But the first, and most important, part of the passage is often omitted:

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back-- Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now."

The short version talks about having a dream and wasting no time in pursuing it. The intended message however, is that failing to make a firm commitment will doom the dream. Even better, you may find unexpected help along the way. I don't believe in superstition, but I do believe in the saying about good luck: "I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have." Food for thought as an approach to training and racing.

That's more than enough quotes for one day. Here's a favourite clip that most of you have probably seen before. Only one winner, but both of them know they gave everything they had.

No comments: