I love working with athletes. I love the journey of it all. I love the journey through a season. I love to watch that progression.
This time of the season it’s easy to set the goals. The races are happening, everyone is fit, smiling, smashing races. What I am interested in is what happens in February. There is a quote I love that goes like this:
“Commitment is doing the thing you said you would do, long after the mood, you said it in has left you”.
I have coached a long time, and I have coached every type of personality there is. Generally speaking athletes don’t come to a coach because they are unmotivated. There is a high level of type A in this sport. Often times that type A comes to me asking me to give them punishing workouts. Make them hurt. Take it to them!
There is a time and day for that. But where they generally falter, are during the boring periods.
Depending on the type of athlete you are (anaerobic versus aerobic, experienced versus newer to the sport) you might have more intensity or you might have less. Athletes often falter in the base building phase…. well because aerobic rides and run are…. gasp…. boring. Monotonous.
You don’t build a house without a strong foundation. You don’t build a skyscraper without a basement. And that foundation takes more than 6 months to build.
Often times athletes want to jump the gun and go straight for all out efforts. They’re fun, why wouldn’t they? But when injury and burnout surface, or they just can’t pull it together on race day…. they are often left to wonder why. They want the house without the foundation. They want the prize without the work.
Two weeks ago at our camp in Lake Placid, conditions on the course were the most difficult I have seen since 2003. The only thing missing was hail. That course itself is hard. Add in some wind and especially on that last 11…. it’s beyond punishing. It’s demoralizing. It’s demeaning. I myself have been broken more than once out there. We had a few who stopped after loop one because it was so hard.
But for many I got to see a flip switch inside of them.
It was that moment of “THIS IS HARD. But I am going to sit back and be patient.” Four miles an hour was a good day and rather than get lost in the horror that and the difficulty of the day, they allowed it to make them stronger. Those athletes emerged stronger after that. They know there is no course condition now, that could break them.
They realize how far they have come since hitting “submit” so many months ago. They put in the time in February when winter seemed so damn endless. The basement was cold and it was dark. 4 and 5am always came too soon. They stopped thinking about it long before and just did it. They adjusted their lives because their goal was THAT important to them. They rode earlier so their kids wouldn’t feel the brunt of all of this. They learned how to recover during the day so they could stay awake at the dinner party for the company.
They just got it done. Boring. Hard. Difficult. When those times come, when the difficult non motivated days show up then…. are you able to get it done? Or has the mood you set the goal in left you long ago?
Notice I said nothing about being on a podium. Nothing. I don’t care about podiums. I care about the journey. I care about what happens from start to finish and I am not talking about race day. Race day it an entirely different beast. I am talking about the training. I am talking about the foundation to everything you see happening. The fitness gains, the finisher medals. Those don’t happen last week. They started long ago.
When it gets tough…. what do YOU do? THAT is what I am interested in.
Because sport is just sport. But sport bleeds into life and life bleeds back into sport. Can’t commit outside of sport usually means you can’t commit inside of sport. Can’t do the boring monotonous work inside of sport usually means you can’t do it outside of sport either. Which in my mind says: opportunity. You can still learn. You can still work on it. You can still grow. At any age. Anywhere, anytime.
At the same time, never count yourself out of a podium. EVER. I don’t believe anyone when they tell me they can’t get there. I will call bullshit on that immediately. Do you have patience? Will you put in the time? Will you be true to yourself?
Then you can.
I love what I get to do. I love being involved in all of it. I love to be part of your journey.
Race day is the end result of a longer process. It’s easy to get caught up.
You tell me….. can you Commit to doing what you said you would….. long after the mood, you said it in has left you?”