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.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A reminder to all coaches

This is a simple concept in coaching, but I see it being forgotten too often. Here it goes:

As a coach, part of your job is to be ON THE ATHLETE'S SIDE!

Many coaches are great at accepting accolades when things go well, but quickly try to shed their responsibility when things go wrong. They blame the athlete for the options they make. Guess what Mr, when an athlete decides something, it's your decision too!

If you're not comfortable with the decision, you only have two options. Either convince the athlete of his mistake or go with it and assume full responsibility for the consequences. Shrugging your shoulders is not acceptable. There is no in-between, no sitting on the fence. An athlete makes a mistake, you make a mistake.

This is also a personal reminder. It's very easy to try to blame others, and hard to assume responsibility for failure. But when in doubt, always remember to do your job.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

One more thing about good decisions

I wrote the blog below in December 2009. Big congrats to Sarah Groff and her coach, Darren Smith. Well done, guys!

"Doing the right thing

Being an observer of the sport, I follow what is going on with some/most of the top performers. I read their blogs, follow them on Twitter, it's part of the job.

One of such athletes is Sarah Groff. I never met Ms. Groff or even talked to her on email, but I've been following her career for some years. It was quite puzzling to see her form crumble when it was crunch time to get the qualification for Beijing. She strikes me as an athlete that does have what it takes to make it as a top performer, but it seems that there is that last 1% missing. Her race at the WCS Final was a good example of that. My coaching bias attributes this pattern of underachieving to her coaching options these last few years.

For all this, I was happy to read her last blog. I was happy to see that she is breaking up with an environment that is not conducive to high-performance (Colorado scene, US triathlon "coaches", etc) and go work with one of the best coaches in Triathlon, that runs a very successful squad. But above all, I was happy to see someone show the commitment it takes to do the right thing.

Very often I see athletes make terrible decisions that keep them further from achieving their goals. Very often I see athletes choose what is comfortable. Very often I see them choosing the lifestyle over the commitment to be your best. So when athletes do the right thing, they deserve to be praised. Well done Ms. Groff."

Friday, August 5, 2011

Quote Of The Day

"I just want to be the best I can be. And I'll do whatever it takes to be that. I could have been really comfortable where I was in Teddington, nice house, family, friends, watching the Arsenal. But if you want to win medals, then you have to do whatever is necessary. Every second counts. One, two per cent could make a difference. I went to the US to find those percentages. People say don't change when things are going well, I felt the opposite. And it's worked."

Mo Farah