Monday, April 2, 2012

Being Out There

My friend Jimmy Riccitello wrote a great blog recently that summed it up really well. In short, the really great athletes want to be out there! The subject of that blog was Lance Armstrong and the fact that despite ferocious winds, Armstrong was out on the Ironman Hawaii bike course doing what he loves to do - riding his bike. Riccitello, called it desire!

In fact Armstrong makes this clear in the very first chapter of his first book, "It's not About The Bike", that there is nothing he would rather be doing, than being out there on his bike!

With the recent huge growth in recreational endurance sports, strangely, this is the dirty little secret, that never seems to get addressed. That regardless of the weather, how you feel, your hectic schedule, or whatever, there is nothing else you would rather be doing, than being out there doing what you love to do.

The great athletes rarely have to be told what to do. More often they need to be told what not to do - when not to train. When not to go too hard or too long. I recall the round of interviews several years ago with coach Brett Sutton, when the great Chrissie Wellington broke out and started on her magnificent run of long distance triathlon dominance. Sutton who was coaching Wellington at the time, was getting poked and prodded for his "secret". Sutton's best line in several of those articles was: "I have to have strong biceps with athletes like Chrissie - to hold them back!"

The picture at the top of this blog, was taken on a damp, cold and foggy day a few weeks ago. When I got up in the morning I really did not feel like riding. Yet, I prepped myself and the bike, and headed out. Fifteen minutes into the ride, I realized I had a grin on my face - this is what I wanted to be doing. This is what I really loved to be doing. Out there riding my bike!

Reflecting back on my own "career" as an endurance athlete, with the help of age and a better perspective, I have come to the conclusion that I was a better trainer than racer. I wanted to be out there, doing it, whatever it was, as much as I could. There is no doubt in my mind that I probably left some of my best performances on the training track or road and not in real races. Yet, I realize also that I would not have experienced the modest "success" that I did achieve, if I truly did not love being out there!

I don't mean to discredit anyone here, but when I engage with modern endurance athletes, the questions all seem to be about everything else, but that love of being out there and that desire. It's all about the gear, the graphs, the numbers, the program . . . . etc They seem to want the results, and to move forward, but what seems lacking from the questions I get and the discussions I am involved with and listen to, is that, love of being out there and that desire.

The bottom line is that if you have the love and the desire, the results will come!

Do you really love being out there?

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Roadie in Vancouver said...

Thanks Steve. So right. Yesterday was the Pacific Populaire here inn Vancouver 103K. It's been raining as usual and was on the morning ride to the start. Some people didn't show, but 338 or so did. Half way through, the sun came out. Nothing I rather would have been doing.

I Pull 400 Watts said...

I have it running, but even leading up to and doing an IM triathlon, I have very rarely felt like that on the bike. I can go for a run in the worst conditions and like you said, find myself with a grin on my face. But that is much harder for me with mountain biking.

scott said...

I absolutely identify and agree with you Steve. I usually just want to head out and put some miles in, and most times I have no pre-planned time or distance, or even direction. . I just want to get "out there" and enjoy the feeling that comes with it. I meander my way around the many country roads in the region, finding new places and things along the way. It's awesome. Nothing better!

Luke Ehgoetz said...

Same for me. I cycled into work today and when I got here, several co-workers said to me "You biked in today?" (implying that it was too cold - it was about zero when I left my house). The sun was shining and I was like "Yah, why not??" A lot of people out there just don't get it. We're not able to ride outside all year long in Canada, so when we can, I do!

it's all about pace said...

Spot on!