Monday, July 18, 2011

The sound of settling*

A lot of times in my work as a coach, I see athletes, both those that I coach and others that I observe, just settling. Just going with the safe, comfortable option. This translates into the decisions they make. It might be in the big decisions, like what races to race, where to live or who to pick as a coach. But also in the small decisions, like cramming workouts to free up an afternoon, changing the training schedule on the fly or what food to eat.

Can you hear the sound of settling? It's just a very low noise, a whisper. It's so low that athletes often have trouble hearing it. This is particularly true to those that speak loudly about how right the approach they're currently using is. When you're shouting, it's hard to hear anything else than your own voice.

Achieving success, both daily but also long-term, means you can never settle. Means you need to always strive to be better. Means you need to break free from the comfort zone. Means constantly asking the question:

Am I settling?

*also the title of a pretty good song.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A recent trend in professional Ironman racing

Underneath the amazing results in Ironman racing in the last few weeks, a trend is more and more noticeable: top athletes have "their" races and no other top athlete shows up to contest them. So you have races like the men's races at Roth, Austria or Switzerland, where besides the designated winner, there really wasn't any competition. On the women's side, it's been the case that top athletes absolutely avoid racing Chrissie Wellington.
These severe cases of "cherry picking" are even more pronounced in 1/2 Ironman racing, where you can have some races that are moderately competitive, while others are not competitive at all. Just as an example, Rhode Island 70.3 had 11 male and female pros starting the race.
This trend isn't happening by chance, but it's the product of the pro rules that the WTC has implemented in the last few years, and particularly since it implemented the new Kona qualifying scheme.
In my opinion, the watering down of fields isn't helping the long-distance professional athletes in particular, but also the sport as a whole. A race where there really isn't any competition is not a race, but an event. In order for long-distance triathlon to grow into a serious sport, we need the best athletes racing each other at a few select events, where they compete for real prize-money. In order for us to have a sport and for it to grow, we need real racing, not cherry picking.