Monday, December 6, 2010

Where it all starts

It doesn't matter what your friends are doing. It doesn't matter what they think. It makes no difference whether or not your husband thinks it would be fun or if your parents would be proud.

You can't do it for them.
You Must do it for You.

If you want to succeed, it Must come from your Heart.

Before anything else. If you don't have a hot burning desire to dig deep inside and work your tail off, don't bother.
That might sound harsh. I believe it though. Certain things take too much energy and time and devotion to do it wihtout your heart.

Transfer this to anything in your life. It doesn't have to be Triathlon. Or running. Or swimming. But for me, it is. This post is about my sport.

Some people are born with more atletic talent than others. In other words, genetic potential. This is a sweet little gift from your Mom and Dad or Grandfather and Grandmother. If you were born with a dose of talent, say your polite thank yous and move on. Because it takes a Lot more than that. And more importantly, you don't have to have the perfect amount of genetic potential to be the best of the best.

What you need is heart. And skill. And toughness. You can develop your skills. You can study and practice and repeat things over and over and over until you get it right. You can devote months during the winter to improving your run form. You can hire a coach and learn proper swimming techniques. And then you hit the pool or the roads and you dig into that desire that comes from your heart and you practice perfection over and over and over until you get it. That is how you develop your skills. Again, it starts from inside. After all, if you don't want it, nobody is going to motivate you to run back and forth on your driveway doing running drills when it's 32 degrees and snowing!


Have you ever watched someone race who is clearly not showing great bike handling skills. Or maybe she doesn't have the best swim stroke. Does she lean back when she runs or maybe her shoulders are hunched and her arms cross over? And yet, she's out in front or close to it? She's fast!? Maybe you've watched athletes like this so you're thinking, hey! Where are her perfect skills? How is that working?

Let's talk about Toughness.
That factor in sport that I believe is Crucial. It can make or break the race. It propels some people into greatness. It comes from deep inside--from your heart.

Let's get this straight before I go on. Toughness is not inherited. It's not something ones wins in the genetic lottery. You develop it over your life and learn how to put it to use. You aren't Lucky that you're tough. You teach yourself to become tough. You work at it. You fight for it. Once you have it, it's yours to keep.

So, what is toughness?
Have you ever been out on a training run with specific goals in mind. You were out there to hit a certain pace as part of specific training for an upcoming race. It was a key workout. Let's say you were running along getting ready to pick up the pace and hit those goals when Bam! wind. You turned around and a wall of wind smacked you down and force you to reach even Deeper! Mabye for a few minutes you thought, forget it! I can't do it today! This was going to be hard enough with no wind, perfect temperatures and flat roads! Now this!? I'm done.
OR... do you change your thinking and employ a fighting spirit against those annoying winds and just go for it anyway. Race day weather is Rarely perfect so get tough and make this happen. Use your heart and dig deep. It must come from within.

Perhaps you were on a race course, thinking that things were moving foward as they should, when a competitor surprises you and makes a pass.
Do you quit? Back off? Give it up to him and say, "oh's not my day."
HellNo! Not if you're tough.
FIGHT Back!!! Get over that disappointment and jump back into the battle.
Be strong. Be tough. It takes heart.

Have you ever been in a race when you felt the overhwelming urge to just stop. To get off the bike, to walk off the road, or to hide under the shade of a table at an aid station? You know that pull...that feeling that you have nothing left. Nothing. Can you fight it? Did you fight it? Did you reach deep inside and pull out the last little teeny bit of strength to get to that ever glorious finish line? If you did, you are tough too.

Don't ever go out there and think 'you're not talented enough or that you didn't win the genetic lottery' as others may have. That is not what determines succes in my opinion. Does it help? Probably. But how much? You can't measure that. Plenty of people are uber talented but they are as tough as a corn flake and that's as far as it goes.
I love this line from a great book I read. "Your future is determined far more by what you do than what you are genetically."


Mary IronMatron said...

"they are about as tough as a corn flake."
Ange, I love that line! haha!
You should be a motivational speaker.
I want to scream YAH MAN! BRING IT ON! I'm that Tough chick that leans back when she runs! :)

Caratunk Girl said...

Way to get me fired up on my rest day, coach. :)

This was awesome, love love love it. And agree with you 100%. Mary is right, you should be a motivational speaker!

runputt said...

"Have you ever been in a race when you felt the overhwelming urge to just stop"

Maybe not stop, but I often hear that voice during races telling me it's time to slow it down. That's when I know I need to pick it up and silence that voice. There's plenty of time to go slow after the race!

Christi said...

Damn! Caratunk Girl tweeted about this article and it was so worth the read! Thank you so much for reminding me of this!

I am printing this and putting it on my bathroom mirror so I don't forget this message!

Jennifer Harrison said...

YEP ! totally agree! I would much rather work with a TOUGH, gritty and really really solid athlete than someone who is super talented naturally...they tend to have had things come to easily for them (kids, HS and sometimes even college) and when life gets tough and the competition gets tougher- they fold...

You are a tough athlete, indeed, Ange! And, you work hard at it for sure! People can learn alot from you about that!

FFigawi said...

Genetics doesn't count for much if you don't do anything with it. :)

JenniferLeah said...

While I have never had the urge to quit during a race, there have been THOSE training days when I have.
I am printing this and putting it up in the home gym! THANK YOU :)

Luke said...

Great Post. Sheer determination or toughness is something that I have applied in other pasrts of my life and hopefully it will be able to be applied in multisport. I love how you descibe it. Again, Great post.

Meg said...

I loved this post Ange! I was unfortunately NOT blessed with any 'natural' athletic ability. I'm in AWE of those that are. My mom was an art major and my dad an engineer (come to think of it I didn't inherit either of those gifts either haha) I've had to work VERY hard to get the little athletic ability that I do have. I taught myself to be tough. I am not sure when it exactly happened although I am sure it was something that took years to develop and am still working on. I know I wouldn't have lived through my car accident if I wasn't a tough cookie. I often talk to myself and yes even sometimes outloud during races when i feel like I just have NOTHING left in the tank. I say, "pick it up muller, you're a tough b*tch" and somehow I drag myself to the finish line.

Heather said...

Great post!! I'm gonna read it again!

Jason said...

New follower here. This is just unreal. I get those questions all the time and I just tell people if it is not for you that is fine but don't question. I don't ask why you do the things you do.

But now I have a great response in that I can say I'm not a CornFlake.




Jen said...

Amazing post. Thank you for that. New follower here. If genetics had anything to do with it, I would've given up a long time ago -luckily I've got heart and I'm getting tougher by the mile. Wall of wind? bring it on.

dawn said...

That is going to be my new "end of triathlon" help me get through the run mantra. "I'm tougher than a cornflake....I'm tougher than a cornflake....I'm tougher than a cornflake!"