Friday, April 22, 2011

Go Mental

A lot of hate flowing around here lately.  Snide remarks, slanderous comments, and backhanded compliments and I could care less right now.  One comment to my face was interesting, "Oh, you're Bob.  I've heard about you."  My response was, "Well, I hope you form your own opinions before forming a judgement about a person you don't know."  This was followed by a comment from a guy who said, "He's the guy who is stopping me from doing a 1/2 Ironman.  The rules say I cannot listen to music and he says that he enforces it." (So does every other triathlon ref in the USA.)  I cannot control what you think.  Nor do I want to.  Think for yourself.  Live your life.  I told the guy who said that, "Use the music.  The first time in a 1/2 IM is a 4:00 penalty.  The second is 8:00 and the third time is a DQ.  If you don't care if you get DQ'd or for your personal safety - do what you want.  Why does it matter if you are DQ'd if you want to do the race with music?  Do it with music.  Just understand the potential consequences of your actions - possible DQ or death if a car goes through a barricade and you cannot get out of the way in time because you cannot hear the vehicle.  If that doesn't bother you, do it.  I'm not stopping you from anything."  The looks on the faces of these two said it all.

I have enough to concern myself with my own life.  I have clients to manage.  Races to prepare to marshal.  Training clinics to run.  2012 training camps to plan.  Athlete data to sift through, and - just like everyone else - training that I want to do.  Everyone has their own issues and lives to deal with.  I don't care what anyone thinks (to a point - that point is when it starts to hurt my reputation and business.  Then I might get up in your grill and maybe even litigious.)  Most of those types are as fragile mentally as the Vancouver Canucks.

An extremely important lesson I learned over 25 years ago...  do YOUR best.  Don't sweat your competition, they'll be there in the end if they take care of their own business.  I try to impress this upon my athletes.  (*MLB could learn from this too.)  Take care of the home fires first.  You have enough to deal with.  This is where things like Facebook suck the life out of people already distracted by television and other "entertainment" medium.  Anyway...

  • Don't fixate on one person or group of persons
  • Don't fixate on a pace/mph/power number
  • Be an athlete
  • The only race that matters is the clock versus you
The pursuit of the perfect race is the dream.  That's the race that you win by a lot and set a new personal record while setting a new world record.  Or is that the "perfect" race?  What if I told you the perfect race is one you learn from? (Lots of grey area in there isn't it?)  Ah, now I'm bending your noodle a bit, eh?

What if you focused on one person / group and they have a bad day, meanwhile, in another part of the race - someone completely different "brings their 'A' game" and you lose?  You beat the person you focused on - but you lost the race.  Allow me to explain: 

1) You beat your person or group of persons
2) You don't do your best
3) You lose

Talk about major disappointment.

Now... what if: 

a) You race / prepare / train as hard as you possibly can
b) On race day (test day) you do an amazing time
c) You fail to win / meet a certain (unrealistic) goal time / qualify for whatever

Did you win?  I would say 'yes'.

For a real life example, I give you Bill Cregar, University of Georgia swimmer.  Bill had issues with some of his earlier races at NCAAs in prior years.  He kept his head this year.  He knew what he needed to do in order to swim his best and he executed on those items; if you haven't seen his winning 400 IM from the 2011 NCAA Division I swimming and diving champs this year - you need to see it - a thing of beauty.   Seated at a "disappointing" 3:44.97, Mr. Cregar came back and swam a "slow" 3:40.97 400 IM and won the NCAA Championship.  Funny thing is that the three guys in the middle of the pool were so concerned with each other's moves that they didn't swim their best race and thus LOST the event to the guy who just let it fly and went for his best.  At the finish two of the guys just looked at each other incredulously that they lost the race.

As we open the 2011 racing season I ask one thing from you, my readers; do your best.  Whatever the heck that is.  "To do any less is to waste the gift." - Steve Prefontaine  If I have an athlete who has a "best possible" of x and they meet or exceed that time; that is a win.  I don't care where they finish in the standings.  Don't worry that you may be lugging extra pounds around - address it.  Don't worry that you aren't "in shape"; not everyone can be in the shape of their life at every moment of their life.  That's OK.  It's allowed.  Work hard.  Go to work / play / life each day and bust your ass. 

"This is your life not some dress rehearsal." - Jon Blais - ALS may have beaten his body but it didn't "win the war".

What if there weren't any races?  What would you do?  I bring this up because a few years ago in Kona, the day before the Ironman World Championship - on Friday.  I met a guy who was "racing".  I met him and his entourage on Friday morning as he prepared to take on the race course completely ALONE un-noticed by the throngs of people preparing for Saturday.  He did the course and just before 13 hours (as I walked off to dinner) he finished into the arms of his family and friends in an incredibly emotional scene.  He said that "He'd never qualify or win the lottery.  Now, was the time in my life to try to cover the distance."  He "did" Kona.  No t-shirt.  No finisher's medal.  Plenty of heart.  Dream accomplished.

There will always be detractors if you try anything.  Choose to ignore them and proceed toward your goals and dreams.


  1. Hey Bob! Yes, social media is the worst thing and the best thing to happen to all of us, right?!!!!! :)) OR we just need some sunshine!!!

  2. Hi Jenny - Honestly! Hoping for dry roads tomorrow, but I have a feeling I'll be riding the computrainer again. At least the session will be quality.