"I had once had a pro athlete who had a bad race in Kona and so was walking the marathon. Some spectators offered him a beer. He drank it. Someone reported it. He was banned for 1 year. We never knew that was a rule. After that we did. Doubt that very many would know this." J. Friel
We all know some triathletes who are work out fiends. You might even be one yourself. Possibly even to the point of excess and your own detriment. Couple folks around here sure fit that description. But for the rest of us, dragging your sorry self out of bed in the pre-dawn darkness can really be a chore. Especially in my neighborhood where there's a bear who raids the bird feeders and garbage cans regularly. (It goes something like, "You know, the bear might be back in the neighborhood. I'd best stay right here, for my own safety and as bread winner for the family of course. Yep, right between these soft, warm sheets and this pillow just the way I like it. Uh, yep, right, for my own safety!") But somehow you overcome this silly argument with yourself, lace on your Adidas, and out the door you go. But you do look behind trees for you know who.
It's the practice, the repetition, the honing of tri skills that gets us the reward we seek on random summer Sundays. The payoff so to speak. Although many of your friends might not understand the sentiment, the feeling you have, when you cross the race finish line in PR style. Even if it's only a small improvement, you're better. Faster! A podium finish is immaterial. That little voice inside your head goes "Yes!" After you catch your breath....maybe even before you catch your breath, this stepping stone to personal greatness has been mounted and you're planning the next one. It's human nature.You may be familiar with author Daniel Coyle, The Talent Code, The Secret Race about Tyler Hamilton (which if you haven't read gives you a well-written different perspective on Tour de France doping. Recommended) or Lance Armstrong's War. Coyle is fascinated with the Patriot's Bill Belichick coaching style. He writes:
"The main problem with practice is that we all have a powerful instinct to avoid it.
There’s a perfectly good reason for this: your unconscious brain. Practice involves spending lots of energy struggling for an uncertain payoff, and your unconscious brain really, really dislikes spending energy for uncertain payoffs.
After all, evolution built your brain to behave like an ultra-conservative banker — investing energy only when there’s a clear, tangible benefit. As a result, we’re all natural-born geniuses at coming up with excuses not to practice, or to cut corners, or to skip it and hope things work out."
Coach Friel would point out that training time spent in race simulation goes a long way. So do frequent shorter races to build not only your endurance but your confidence when things aren't going according to plan. Regardless of your situation, practice and race simulation give you the proper state of mind. Like the old poem goes:
All in the State of Mind
If you think you are beaten you;If you think you dare not, you don't;If you would like to win and don't think you can,It's almost a cinch you won't.
If you think you'll lose, you're lost;For out in the world you'll findSuccess begins with a fellow's will;It's all in a state of mind.
Full many a race is lost;Ere even a step is run.And many a coward failsEre even his work is done.
Think big and your deeds will grow,Think small and you'll fall behind;Think that you can and you will-It's all in the state of mind.
If you think you're outclassed, you are;You've got to think high to rise.You've got to be sure of yourself beforeYou can ever win a prize.
Life's battles don't always goTo the stronger or faster man;But, sooner or later, the man who winsIs the fellow who thinks he can.____________________________________For those of you who are WSJ subscribers, and want a little more on Belichick, try http://on.wsj.com/1dwsY1H .