Friday, April 10, 2009

On Being Your Own Athlete

I have had two folks who I train who are in a bit of "full freak out" about their racing.  This message is directed at him and her, but I hope it can help you as well.

Relax.  Repeat after me...  

Triathlon is how I have fun.  I can only control my training, diet, racing and self talk.  If I did not mention it before, I cannot control it and therefore, has no effect on me.  I will not waste energy, time or mental power on what I cannot control.   When I go to competition, I will only care about my best and using my competition to get my best even better.

Maybe it is me not racing for almost 20 months now (save for one race that I shouldn't have started) or perhaps my "advanced" age.  I just don't care what other people think.  Ya know what?  I'm pretty darn happy and enjoying my racing more than ever.

This lesson above was learned two ways and a few times at various races.  Once in a swim meet in high school, I was so keyed up to beat the guy who finished 3rd in my best even in the finals the year previous that I completely ignored pacing and got beaten by someone else.  I finished the race and wasn't even breathing hard.  I beat the guy...lost the race...swam a bad time.

Another time I was so dialed into the rivalry of a guy who I will hate to my dying day that I failed to notice the kid from another club ride past me and run away from me.  Trust me, 2nd overall didn't feel so good when I should have won.

My last example was a triathlon where I didn't care what anyone else was doing.  I did my own training at my own pace.  I stayed away from the expo.  I didn't go to the "carbo load".  On race day I (momentarily) led the race when the men's pro field swam the wrong way.  On the bike, I rode past several of my friends and didn't even notice because I was dialed into my race.  I had two flat tires because some douche bag in my age group (who I passed on the run) had thrown nails down on a downhill.  Try changing a tubular loaded with rusty, bent finishing nails quickly.  On the run, there were several opportunities to get freaked out by other racers.  Approaching the first nasty hill the two guys in front of me were literally complaining about the hill before they got to the hill.  I pulled my hat down and took the hill one step at a time.  Wasn't so bad.  At mile 23, when I should have been breaking down, a runner's high kicked in.  The finish line announcements were being played out at 23, 24 and the 25 aid stations.  When I was leaving 23 I heard this, "If you are a man in the 30-34 age group and you can hear my voice.  NONE of your competition has crossed the finish line!"  Understand that I knew some guys in my age group were in front of me but I didn't think that.  I thought about the opportunity to catch as many guys as I could in the last three miles.  I thought that I can suffer a lot for only three short miles.  I drilled it finishing with a heart rate at 211.  But if you would have asked me, I would have said my heart rate was around 193.  My last 5k of this Ironman 22:00.  Did I have too much in the tank?  Maybe.  Or was I running on empty and raw emotion?  In the zone and not feeling the pain I should have.  I believe the later.  Especially since it took me about two hours to be able to walk without looking like I had a disease.

I caught 75 people in the last three miles of a highly competitive Ironman. 24 guys in my age group.  I went from 51st to 27th and having a ghost of a chance for Kona.  The last slot went to 26th place.  Imagine if I didn't have two flats?  By my numbers I would have been about 22nd.

That is the difference in being your own athlete.  Do your best.  Believe in yourself and your training.  If you haven't been able to train like you think you should have - talk to your coach.  That's why you pay him/me.  Believe me...if you have more in the tank I'll get it out.  I am trying to balance your training and rest.  Sometimes more is just more.  You know my track record with my athletes at big races; big PRs and times that "weren't possible" achieved.

Quiet the negative self talk.  Turn off Facebook, your blog and tune into your own feelings.  Review your training log.  Look at the hard work you've done.  Think about all the people who have said things like "I don't even like to drive that far", "You're crazy", "Nobody should go that far", and my personal favorite "Who do you think you are?"  Give them the big up yours at the race and stick the landing.

So to my two athletes who are reading your best.  I know where you are currently in your preparation.  I have my expectations of you which you can achieve if you try.  I believe in you.  You should believe in you.  Reach into your soul and pull out who you are for all to see.

Hard working.
World class.

Tough as nails.


Call me after your race.  It's gonna be a ripper!

Coach Bob
*Queue up "No Mountain High Enough"

1 comment:

  1. Reading this the night before MY first race of the year was just what I needed :) Thanks!