Aristotle once said “we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
I’ve been giving a lot of thought the past few weeks to the coaching profession. Technically this will be my twelfth full year of coaching and although I’m pleased with the progress of Mile High Multisport, I have a greater vision of how I want to coach and develop the business. Each year during this time, I ask myself “Why do I coach?”, “What my coaching philosophy will be in the new year for each of my athletes, what areas of improvement I see for myself to become more knowledgeable, what I want to continue doing that worked well last season and what I need to do better in the upcoming year.
As an athlete, I also go through this process when it comes to setting my personal goals. As a youth, I played baseball. I used to love the game and am saddened that I don’t see today’s youth out in the parks playing pick up games of ball anymore. I played at a competitive level and my father was “my coach”. It took me many years to realize that he was a very good coach as he taught me not only the fundamentals of the game but the mental aspect that goes along with athletics. One thing he used to always tell me was “see yourself making the play before it happens.” I would envision myself making the plays that the pros made. In short, I envisioned success before it happened.
Every night, my father would take me outside and “drill me”. Perhaps he would tell a different story, but I don’t recall ever saying “no” or “hang on dad, I need to just finish watching this show”. Although it was years ago, I can still remember the “drills” to this day. I wanted to be a baseball player when I grew up. I had a vision that I would play 2nd base for the Chicago Cubs one day. I wanted to be better than anyone else in my town and I worked very hard to accomplish my goal.
As triathletes, we need to take a look at how we mentally approach racing and training. I’m often dumb founded when an athlete tells me one week they have this lofty goal and the next week they tell me they are lacking motivation to go train. I believe that the goal itself should be enough motivation to want to train. As I evaluate my clients, and how I want to coach, I’ve been looking at the mental aspect of the sport and evaluating each one of my clients. Some clients require very little motivation, while others require a lot.
The approach we take to mental preparation should be part of our goal setting process. Each of us should honestly assess this area. Do you require little motivation and give 100% effort to each of your workouts or are you a “worrier” who often finds excuses to why something didn’t happen. Do you have a mantra that you bring to training and races that helps you keep you focused? If you aren’t sure which type of an athlete you are, ask someone whose opinion you value for an honest assessment. Keep in mind that you may not get the response you want to hear.
It is my belief that mental preparation should be a part of the goal setting process. Your physical ability will only take you so far, it is your mind which defines excellence. The same thing applies to your profession; your intellect will only take you to a certain point. How you interact with others and the mental preparation you take to your job separates mediocrity and excellence. If you have ever wondered about what separates the people on the podium from the people who participate, look no further than your mind. Mentally tough athletes have an inner strength, an inner focus and desire that others lack. They don’t MAKE EXCUSES or justifications on why things happened. The athletes who reach their goals work hard all the time. You don’t hear people on the podium state “they aren’t motivated” “it wasn’t gong to happen today”, “I can’t”, “I couldn’t find time”, “I didn’t feel like getting up at 5:30”, I don’t like riding the trainer”; “I didn’t run outside because it snowed or it was cold”. The mind manifests what it hears. Instead of telling your mind what to not do, tell it what it will do. I’m confident you will find yourself working more efficiently.
I recently picked up a book entitled “Mind Game, an athlete’s guide to inner excellence” by Gary Mack and David Casstevens. It is a short yet powerful book which every athlete should read. In the book they state “learn to use your mind or your mind will use you. Actions follow our thoughts and images. Don’t look where you don’t want to go”. Another personal favorite is “In Pursuit of Excellence” by Orlick.
As you approach a new race season, make a commitment to be a mentally strong athlete. Rid your self of all the excuses. There is a huge benefit to the power of positive reinforcement and visualization. See the results from the minds eye. Champions win in their mind first. “See yourself making the play before it actually happens.”
Author: Peter S. Alfino, Founder and Owner Mile High Multisport. USAT level II triathlon coach. http://milehighmultisport.com/reaching-heights-pete-alfino/WWW.milehighmultisport.com. How You Train Makes The Difference!! Contact Pete at firstname.lastname@example.org