Monday, August 15, 2011

The song of the sirens*

In Greek mythology, sirens were bird-women, portrayed as seductresses, who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island.

In endurance circles, we have our version of the sirens. Their song tells us there is an easier, faster way to be successful. You can train less, recover more and be more successful than your peers. You can have balance in your life and still be on top of those that relentlessly pursue the same goals you have.

Especially sensible to the song are those that are looking for the shortcut, those that think there is a secret, easier way to achieve their goals. Those that constantly doubt themselves and their path and look for clues to achieve success. "This is hard, there HAS to be an easier way!"

Invariably, these athletes end up shipwrecked, by simply lacking the necessary consistency in training to be successful. Invariably, these athletes are beaten by those that have kept their head down, stayed on the path and went through the process. Invariably, listening to the song of the sirens gets you further away from your goals.



*For the Song To The Siren, go here.

9 comments:

rappstar said...

In a "great minds think alike" (or perhaps NOT-so-great), I was thinking also of Greek mythology with regards to training as well. Training, to me, echoed the story of Orpheus descending into the underworld to retrieve his love, Eurydice. The journey to get her was obviously scary; a trip that required, to borrow a phrase, "engagement" and also hard work. But the trip out of the underworld was equally challenging, more from a mental standpoint, which reminded me of the process of race preparation as well. Just like Orpheus, you cannot "look back." There is a great amount of faith required that the work you have done will be good enough on race day. I remember before the 2008 Olympics, training with Simon, I wondered, "how do we know if he's ready to win a medal?" I think I realize now that we didn't know. We just knew that we had done our best to do the best job we could and that the answer to whether that was enough would be answered on race day. Ultimately, I think that's what makes Olympians so special. You wait four years to find out if you faith was enough. It's a four year journey to the underworld and back. But, like Orpheus, you never really get to look back and see if it works. You get indications of course, that Orpheus did not. You get to race in between; you can tell if training sessions are good or not; but ultimately, you have to pick what you think is the best path and commit to it. And trust it. And, of course, not get distracted away from it by the song of sirens...

hillary biscay said...

Love it. Well said. Thanks Paulo.

STEVE FLECK said...

To deep for me.

Just love to train. Love to have the sun, the rain, the wind, the snow, on your face! It's something you want to do EVERY day!

Love to be outdoors. Love to find that edge of your endurance and surf along it like you are balancing on a wave for as long as you can.

Also love to take a break, to rest to recoup-orate, and to re-charge - and then to get ready to do it all again.

Great blog and great follow up by JR.

SF

Richard Melik said...

One of my favourite songs.

Jairus Streight said...

It may be important to differentiate between 'sirens' and those innovators of high performance who are constantly exploring techniques to improve the longevity of the process (as you are aware, a process which warrants no shortcuts when it comes to hard work). But I can think of individuals who have contributed innovative ideas making both the work and the process more 'dialed', with less 'highs-and-lows', with the added value of consistency. Yet for all their 'outside the box' thinking and jibberish, they are certainly not 'sirens'. Great post.

jonnyo said...

i think it s important to take this blog with a grain of salt. Yes, working hard is important, but you also have to have balance to be the best you can be. when you get older, your body cant do as much and doing less if often more... less is more in a way. It s during those time that you need to be more clever and use experience to get the most out of less workout and find the tricks and technic to get faster, fitter, stronger. high performance is about balance, making the right compromise and been able to justifing it to yourself. Beleiving in what you do and conviencing yourself that LESS IS MORE

Paulo Sousa said...

Nice try, Jonnyo... You didn't think I'd publish your comment, did you? :)

Megan said...

Couldn't agree with this post more. I've learned a lot over the last few years, and this year especially (with a huge "out of balance" life change) reinforces the need for ignoring the shortcuts, putting in the time to get me closer to my goals, and truly making it work.

Of course, those that take shortcuts often have flighty and somewhat superficial goals (not "I truly want to be a better athlete and push my limits of physiology" but "I want to go 4:XX in my next half iron [didn't they learn that time doesn't really matter in triathlon?]"

... but that's a whole 'nother story.

Pschall said...

I love this post. This type of thinking helps to shrug off the ones who are soft in my own training too--all those who say “you’ve got plenty of time”, “it’s your first season”, “you were sick”, “Just have fun”. Yes, I love triathlon and my training, but losing isn’t fun. Having a bad race time isn’t fun. Shortcuts aren’t fun. Only the hard, crazy work will be truly satisfying. Thank you for sharing this! Even though the post is a couple months old, it is EXACTLY what I needed to read this morning.