Thursday, January 22, 2009

You Need an Edge

I was talking with one of my clients and said this, "You need an edge." She was confused as to exactly what I meant. Here is what I told her.

The Edge - (not this guy...but close)

The 'edge' as I call it is that thing that gets your ass out of bed (or better yet...wakes you up before your alarm) on the worst of days. Thursday is a tough turn around for me. As we say in our house, "Sleep fast."

Yesterday, I got home from being a Gatorade Lab Rat ( about 8:30 PM, make dinner after being completely annihilated in the lab at 85 F and an unknown humidity for 90 minutes. Dog tired this morning...I wake up at 3:45 AM. I do this before big races too: 15 minutes early. It just sucks more on days like these. 4:15 AM I am in the ice cold car and the only car on the road in the pre-dawn hour (the best part of getting up early) to go to CompuTrainer power class. I woke up tired. I wasn't sure what I'd feel like, but the class went very well. The reason? My edge.

Last season I was hurt but still attempted one race. I finished, but it was the most humbling experience of my life as I "ran" slower than my bike. I finished my first lap of the run at the same time in the race that I finished only a year earlier; I still had two more laps to do in 105 F heat index, high humidity and a merciless sun in mid-May. Early for us Chicagoans where it was still 45 to 60 F here.

My edge isn't against anyone. It is against what injury and laziness had made me. A bad "athlete".

You can be motivated by pain or pleasure. I am motivated by pain. This pain (my embarrassing performance) has motivated me to get "back to where I once belong". It is really hard to maintain optimal fitness and focus for a long time. A former coach told me, "You have to get out of shape before you can get into shape" at the end of every season. My hat is off to those who can do it repeatedly. I needed a little more.

The edge for me is more like a "I'm gonna shove this up your ass" kinda feeling. I need to feel that kind of motivation to train at my current level. I have it. I have it from a few nay sayers in my life. Some are distant relatives who are miserable in their own existence, so they dump on everyone else and mainly me. The others are from work mainly. Getting layed off has a way of doing that. Their negativity drives me to exceed expectations.

I've always been this way. Probably because I remember always being surrounded by negativity and low self esteem my whole life. I never felt that way, but many around me did. It took me a while to understand that and apply it positively in my life. The best example comes from high school.

I ran, swam and played baseball in junior high school. My running was pretty good (I was the first finisher from my school at the big JR. high XC meet) and I signed up for cross country my freshman year of HS. Through a mix up, I didn't get the information about summer training and showed up on the first day of school only to run something like eight miles. No surprise, I hurt my knee due to over training and then the cherry on top was a broken arm the next day in gym class. I went to every practice. Took splits. Cheered. I couldn't run. After my freshman year of swimming varsity all season I told the XC coach that I was going to focus on swimming. He then ripped me apart saying, "You'll never be a good athlete. Ever." Later at the same school the baseball coach told me that, "Swimmers aren't baseball players." I responded with, "I'm an athlete. Not just a swimmer." Those two clowns posing as teachers - Mr. Jim Swift and Mr. Ray Gawron - were the first to see my silver medal from Kona when I was invited back to speak to a group of varsity athletes. They were pretty quiet.

The 'world' will always tell you you can't achieve your goals. My edge comes from two things: 1) Capacity and Ability: being grateful for the mental capacity to keep trying and showing up and the physical ability to keep going when tired; and 2) Desire: the desire to keep proving people wrong.

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