In May I attended a USAT certification class for coaches. One of the presenters was Bobby McGee. I thought he gave two of the best presentations we heard all weekend. One was about running and the other was about sports psychology. Since I have really started to get into the "mental game" of this sport and its effect on training and racing I was really interested in everything that Bobby had to say. He told us that in sport 90% of individuals under perform based on their training, 9% perform right in line with what their training has indicated and 1% transcend their training. And, it's all mental. Wow, I can certainly control a lot of things if I am in the right mindset. So, I set out to train my mind as well as my body this season.
While doing my swim workout today I started to think about some of my past performances, both swimming and triathlon. I thought about those "magic" races. The ones where everything went right, where all the effort that I was putting in felt like no effort at all. To be honest, I can remember each one because there are not that many. And, upon looking back, those performances probably fell into the 9% category, not the 1% category as I had thought they might. Each one was actually pretty in line with the improvements that I had made in training but there was something I noticed. They all became stepping stones to the next "level" for me. After those performances it was like my confidence was raised and everything went up a notch. I'm not saying that I only got faster after stepping up--there were steps back but that was part of the growth, part of the journey. However, my training improved and eventually I had another breakthrough and moved up another step. Even more, those breakthroughs did not always feel great, not like magic at all. The fact is, every race or training session, for that matter, can be an opportunity to get closer to that 1%. I do not know if I'll ever transcend myself in an athletic performance, but I sure will try.
Here's a picture from my race this weekend that represents me taking the next step in my triathlon career:
The start of my first Pro race. Somewhere I really wanted to be. I know it will not be all roses but that's part of it and no matter what, I am excited for the challenges that lie ahead. Saturday was not a totally magic day for me, but in a race that takes over 4 hours I think that is pretty tough. The swim was good, the bike hurt and the run was....magic. Another step up in my journey. So, here's to the next level. Whatever that may be.