Wednesday, April 1, 2015

From the Archives: 'Training for Possible'

I'm usually not one for recycling posts, but the following was posted in 2013 and after a few conversations with athletes recently I found it relevant to rehash. Enjoy:)

Today I'm going to toss around something that I have bounced around in my own head for a while but have had quite the time putting it into (coherent) words. Take it as you will; because as always what you are reading is 100% my opinion and observation, minus the occasional research article. To begin, I am coming off a very fun and productive working weekend in Austin, TX, spreading the good word of sport psychology with a couple teams I support there. One of the biggest topics that kept coming up over my 48-hour stay was the gap between training and actual results. A.K.A. "the bain of a competitive athlete's existence". Why do we work so hard and not get the result we trained for?  The question of "why" is something I see professionally all the time and have dealt with it plenty myself.

I was prompted to write this post today after a conversation over a cup of coffee with a running friend where the "post-goal-race-gone-bad cloud" topic came up and we swapped stories on  not meeting the race times we've set out to accomplish after MONTHS of hard training, early mornings, and skipped social opportunities. Why is it that when we dial all the numbers, go in confident, and seem to do all the right things do things go wrong? Why?

Based on my experience, it somehow seems that the longer the event or distance-for example, marathons, long-course triathlons, and grueling swim races such as the 400 IM (if you're not privy to swimming, google it)-the more magnified the effect. Let me rephrase-the greater chance of dealing with the aftermath of a disappointing race-this does not have to happen. Whether it is dropping out of a race you felt more than ready for, getting off pace, out touched, seeing those seconds go by on the clock, athletes don't have to go through a post-race crisis. Why?

Because when we train and prepare-we are training for possible. Just as in other facets of life, nothing is ever guaranteed. This is a tough one to swallow, at least I think it is. Think of it this way: suppose a runner sets a goal of running an 'X:XX' time. They do all the work necessary, check off all boxes, yet they run a 'X:XY'. "What?! But I did all this work!" is usually the knee jerk response. Commence questioning everything that does not need to be questioned. You are ready. You are in shape. You likely still did a good job. It's taken me over a year to get over some race performances where I did not get what I wanted because I neglected to accept this very fact.

So, why do things seemingly fail to align during our perceived "key moments"?

Well, we are human. We are capable of doing more than we imagine, but never 100 percent of the time. Gee, even machines don't always run perfectly.

The elements are real: as I talked about in my last post, heat does crazy, uncontrollable things to the most fit and committed.

I'm working on applying the following equation to my training and racing to help keep thing in perspective:

'Adrienne + Training + Confidence + Self Care (sleep, nutrition, recovery, etc) > Uncontrollables (fill in the blank accordingly) = Goal Performance'

This formula is replicable at any time.

Sometimes, there are just things we can't explain. More often than not, not meeting a goal is a product of...well who really knows...good thing there always is another opportunity. Another possibility.

You know those days of training when you just feel off and things don't go right? Yeah-we may not even remember those as we just power through. This can happen on a day you compete as well. And you just power through.

Bottom line comes down to acceptance. You  got, what you got, but should be satisfied that you did what you could.

Here is the unfortunate, yet liberating "truth" (or something like that)-we get in shape to make our goals possible. We may reach them on the day we plan to or we may not. I always hear experienced athletes and coaches say "It is in what the day gives you" whether our work, fitness, and courage meet the intangible and uncontrollable. We really train to make our goals possible. If we didn't, we'd have no shot whatsoever.

I advise us all to go in determined to give it our absolute best, but accept that if things don't go our way for whatever reason, there's always tomorrow.

So, not intending for this to be a total Debbie Downer post-so given all these things-why not go for it? With a positive attitude and a willingness to be patient and flexible-timing be damned, anything is possible.

Stay the course.

1 comment:

Marvin Dittfurth said...

Great post...I liked this line: I advise us all to go in determined to give it our absolute best, but accept that if things don't go our way for whatever reason, there's always tomorrow.
I believe it was Dale Carnegie.."Expect the best but be prepared for the worst." And even if there is not ever a "tomorrow," at least there was today, when you brought your best to the field, yet your best was not enough on that day. But to try and fail is so much better than to fail without trying. In the 2014 Ironman 84 year old Lew Hollander didn't make the bike cut of ...the winds were horrible.. He was disappointed but said, "it was the best I could do."