Passion, Gold, And Goals

olympic medal

 

So the Men’s Olympic swimming is over. I now have no life. Seriously.¬† Please tell me I wasn’t the only one hyped up over the incredible energy they delivered? Or the fact that Michael Phelps was this amazing, beautiful machine to watch in the water. Or that I wasn’t the only one who cried watching his “final” swim ( say it isn’t so)

And let’s just pause a minute¬†and give thanks to the camera crews for giving us such good…coverage…. of the men’s swim team.¬†¬†Really, thank you.¬† ūüėČ

Ah, but there have been other exciting things.

This weekend has been track and field and I actually got to see the women’s marathon this morning. I was impressed when the first 5k was knocked out in about 17 minutes. Yikes. Of course, I was hopeful for our girls from the US (they placed a respectable 6th and 7th out of a field of 160’s I believe) I’m always in awe that they run a marathon ( 26.2 miles) in a little over the time it takes me to run a half marathon. I can’t imagine running those speeds for that long.

Then there was the sprinting, Usian Bolt. The man is like a human explosive.

Sprinting. Short. Sweet. Powerful.

And it doesn’t take much time to view ūüėČ

Of course, I must mention the gymnastics. USA women totally crushed it. I am always in awe at these tiny dynamos that can throw their bodies around and do these crazy and complex moves.

I don’t see my 6’0 body doing stuff like that haha

Every athlete at the Olympics was there because they had a passion, and they pursued it, and they became the best student of what they were doing. They invested countless hours,  sacrifice and dedication to their sport.

We can learn from them.

I found this quote from Michael Phelps that resonated with me :

“I found something I love and never gave up.”

We don’t have to wonder how that worked for him. 28 Olympic medals. Most decorated Olympian ever.

Nope, he never gave up.

The majority of us will never be Olympians. We will never come close to knowing the hard work and sacrifice that they invested into their sport.

But I’ll tell you this…. we can all have or find that thing we love and never give up in our pursuit of being better at it. We can become stronger, more skilled,¬† and a better student of that thing that we pursue.

For me right¬†now, it’s cycling. I’m learning I have a lot of strength and power to bring to this sport and it’s now a matter of practice and consistent training to improve my skills.¬†I know I won’t train for the Olympics, but trust me, I will be in races at some point to cut my teeth on and test my skills and passion. My nature is competitive and I will always be looking to improve and be better than I was the day before.

Tell me … what is your passion? Do you have something that challenges you ? Or motivates you to work harder? What’s the “gold” you pursue?

Mental Strength And Lessons From An Olympian

 

 

Oh boy. Let’s talk more about the Olympics.¬† Let’s specifically talk about the swimming and how USA has burned up the water in all events.

I dare say…. there isn’t an average, normal, swimmer who hasn’t watched and wondered what it would be like to swim like a human dolphin with that amazing speed, grace and agility.

It makes me painfully aware of my horribly inadequate water skills.

Those athletes didn’t develop that skill overnight. It has taken them years of practice, training, sacrifice,¬†and self discipline to achieve the athletic level they are at today.

It’s also taken a high level of mental toughness and determination¬†as well and that’s what I want to talk to you about today.

I thought I was the only one who caught Michael Phelps sitting and mentally preparing before his swim the other night when that young athlete was shadow boxing in front of him, essentially seeking to break his focus and alter his mental game…. hoody on his head the look he delivered was priceless.

Michael Phelps laser
Ha this version made me laugh

 

 

Intentional or not, it was totally priceless.

Obviously, I wasn’t the only one who noticed as the internet blew up with it overnight and meme’s abound with this photo.

Can I just pause here…to publicly admit… he’s seriously my new super hero? Yeah.

Michael Phelps olympic
Do I need words???

 

 

michael-phelps-200-butterfly-
This……

 

 

michael-phelps-pan-pacs-2014
His competitors should be afraid….

 

Ok… enough of that….

What about¬†during the swim, the young athlete, Chad le Clos¬†was focused on Michael by looking at him and not focused on his swim. I’m sure Mr. Phelps was 100% aware of him, but his focus was on the task at hand and what he had to accomplish, not who was next to him.

He had his eyes on the prize.

As an ordinary kind of athlete, I’ve watched with avid¬†interest his preparation and focus before his events.

I study to learn. And this is my take away….

His intensity and focus could be felt.

He tuned out what was around him. Headphones on he was in his zone.

I’d bet you anything, he was already playing that race out in his head.

As we saw with the young competitor shadow boxing in front of him, he didn’t let that shake his focus or composure.

He was fixed on what he was about to do.

I¬† know how I feel before races and how I sort of “get into myself” and just zero in on what I’m about to do.¬† I remember my husband had snapped a pic of me at the start of my last marathon…. ha… I had THE most intense game face ūüėõ

Certainly, the outcome of my race doesn’t involve a gold medal but I’ll tell you I want to do the absolute best I can just as much as that pro athlete wants to perform to the best of their abilities. I have high expectations for myself.

As an athlete mental toughness and strength, I believe, are crucial and almost as important if not more so than the physical aspect of it.

I’ve had to learn to almost get inside myself, my mind, and take myself to a place that envisions doing what I’m going to do.

It leaves zero room for self doubt. None.

I believe that mental toughness carries into all aspects of my life. Yeah, it’s honed through tough physical activities, but there are lots of other daily life¬†events that aren’t easy and I find myself utilizing that mental strength.

So how do you develop this mental muscle?

Practice. Work it like any other muscle.

Have a laser focus on what you are going to do.

Block out distractions.

Believe in yourself. There is no room for doubting your abilities. None.

See the thing before you in your mind and see yourself being successful and accomplishing it.

Don’t talk yourself down…quitting isn’t an option… and success will taste much sweeter.

Determine you will give your all and your personal best.

Understand your mind is a powerful thing and learn to harness it. The more you practice it, the stronger it becomes.

I think after all the¬†training for the marathons, a 50K, and now taking on hard terrain and huge hills cycling, I’d say I have a pretty strong mental focus…but it’s a constant practice and discipline one that I believe¬†I’m always improving on.

The first time I saw this quote, I was a few miles out from finishing a half marathon. Those words gave me strength to push on and reminded me of the tremendous power of my mind…that mental muscle¬† took charge and helped me finish strong.

 

task

 

 

Tell me, do you have tricks or ways of building your mental muscle? Has it helped you?¬† Or…¬†Is this idea foreign to you and something you need to work on?

Olympics And The Average Athletes

train like an athlete

 

I’m supposed to be writing tonight… but I’m kinda distracted. Why you may ask?

The Olympics are on. This is an event that I don’t care where you are in the world, you’re represented at.

We’re only a couple days in and things are already pretty exciting.

This is a disclaimer… I’m fairly sure the Olympic games will earn more space here in my blog before all is said and done.

First, the amazing and cool thing of having countries from all over the world gathered together is such a beautiful, cultural whirlpool to me. There is such beauty and diversity of the human race.

But the thing that fascinates me the most?

Why, the athletes of course. The best of the best in the world. Bodies that are well toned muscled machines from the labor of their sport.  Years, days, and hours of training and a sacrifice that few will ever understand.

It has taken a huge investment in their lives for them to stand in a starting position at the Olympics.

I’m always a bit in awe when I see these athletes and what they are capable of.

For instance, I happened to turn it on today during the ladies cycling event ( well, you know I was glued to watching it ūüėČ

First, the terrain. The were riding up a mountain with more twists and turns than you could count. I’d love to know what the ascent was but they powered it like they were on flat roads, making it look almost effortless although I knew it was far from that.

Then, the descent was fast and “treacherous” as the announcers kept saying. The cyclists could hit speeds of 45-50 miles an hour on twisting roads back down the mountain.

One cyclist lost control and went flying. Although injured, she was ok.

USA held the lead until the final 200 yards when the pack of three behind her made a swift over throw and she finished fourth.

I literally cried for her. The finish line in sight. She had held the lead almost the entire race and then so close, to not even place for a medal.

I could not imagine what that felt like. Heart crushing comes to mind.

And there were lots of other exciting events going on too… but that’s not what I’m focusing on tonight.

As awesome as these events are there’s one thing it does for me.

It motivates me, challenges me and makes me wanna push myself more.

No, I will never be an Olympic athlete, nothing remotely close.

But I am an athlete and I fully understand they haven’t gotten to where they are without training for it.

They get up every day and make choices to train their body for the sports they do. They eat well. They rest. They train hard. They live the life with a focus on what they do.

I have the same opportunities to train myself for the sports I enjoy and to improve in them.

I am only in a competition with myself. To get faster. Stronger. More fit. To be better at it than yesterday.

20150706_180906-1
This reminds me ūüėČ

 

 

Maybe you too are an “average” athlete out there working it every day.¬† Maybe you have bigger goals. Maybe you have smaller ones. Many of us have that “thing” in our lives that we are working towards.

For me, well ha, I’ve got several¬†ideas on a short and long term goal list.

I want to get over this injury so I can run again. That hinders me from an active pursuit of a duathlon. I want to continue to build my miles cycling pushing my speed and building a lot more endurance. I’m strong on hills but want to build that strength even more. I will continue to do strength training to work my body overall to keep it strong for the sports I pursue.

After watching such amazing swimmers during the Olympics it makes me want to work on that skill in my athletic life.  Triathlon someday? Maybe. I have some friends nudging me that way.

And overall, I want to represent the ordinary “middle aged” person who can be athletic and strong. (although my husband always informs me I’m not “ordinary” ūüėČ

If you want to do something, you can.

Ah, but that thought skates into mental toughness, a strong will, and lots of determination that are best saved for another post.

Tell me… are you an “average” athlete? Perhaps you’re even better than that. Tell me about your sport and why you push yourself to be better.