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By Head Coach Scotty Farrell
“Without a struggle, there can be no progress” – Frederick Douglass
It’s talked about regularly – in order to achieve that next level result, you have to be prepared to endure a good sold smattering of cold hard suffering on race day. But how many of you are prepared to ‘suffer’ just a little more than the rest, on a daily basis? How much are you really prepared to sacrifice in order to put yourself in a position to even attempt to reach the outer limits of what is possible? Do you take the easy option? Are you doing the mundane, extra little things, that makes the difference between a successful and mediocre performance?
These are big, somewhat deep questions – but honest questions nonetheless and questions that for those of you who want to go next level, need to be asking yourself on an almost daily basis. Stick a post it note on your mirror – “have you suffered a little today?”
The word suffer can mean a few different things depending on what angle you’re coming from, so let me explain what I mean when I say suffer, for the purpose of this article at least. Firstly, keep it in the context of triathlon and your life bubble, and relate it directly to your ultimate goal (ultimate goals – this is a whole other blog, but for now, let’s just go out on a limb and suggest that for most of us, this means putting together a truly honest, grit filled performance that you can step away from and smile with pride. Not so much a number on the clock, but a performance worthy of a deep, intrinsic smile and maybe a few tears of guts and heart). I digress (sorry, I’m a tangent master at the best of times – mum called me a day dreamer). Back to suffer and its definition.
The Oxford dictionary defines the word suffer as “To experience or be subjected to (something bad or unpleasant).” Let’s define suffer for our bubble as ‘putting yourself in situations you’d rather not be in and enduring it for want of facing fears and improving your weaknesses’ – much the same as the dictionary, but with a slight twist, geared at performance.
If you’re still with me and you’re willing to endure a few more tangents (possibly suffer a little), I will attempt to share with you, my thoughts and opinion on what it takes to suffer on a daily basis and take yourself closer to living your potential.
How to suffer 101
It’s a broad and subjective term is ‘suffer’. We can define it in a few different ways. But ultimately, it’s the collective ability to consistently put yourself in positions where you feel discomfort and work towards being a better person/athlete. You don’t have to be a navy seal and put yourself through hell week every day of your life, but if you want to take your performance to the next level, then you have to be willing to suffer, every day, period – even just a little.
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It’s taper time, time to start getting fresh and prepping yourself for the big day ahead in a couple of weeks. It’s a time to reflect upon the work you have done, the sacrifices you and your loved ones have made for you to be where you are and to remember how lucky you are to be in a position to be doing an Ironman in the first place.
In a perfect world, we remain completely zen about it all, cruise into the race with linear, cool as you like emotions intact and crush race day like it’s a walk in the park.
However, this is so far-fetched from what normally goes on. For most of us, we go into self-sabotage mode. We reflect on our training, but rather than focus on how much we have done, it’s about what we missed. We begin to doubt our strength and fitness and enter into a somewhat negative mindset which from where I sit, isn’t going to help things in both the lead up and on race day.
Whilst hindsight is a beautiful thing, let’s instead bring our focus to what lies ahead, what we can control and how we can set ourselves up for a kick arse taper.
Control the controllables: we say it time and time again. There are a few things you have control over. Such as the few listed below:
Embrace the butterflies:
You’re going to feel nervous leading into an Ironman, particularly if this is your first one. But rather than trying to suppress these feelings and be super positive all the time, embrace the nerves and butterflies – it means you care and it really is a part of why we do this amazing sport. If we didn’t get the butterflies, it wouldn’t scare us and then what’s the point right!?
So embrace all of the feelings that come your way and whilst it’s important to keep things positive and focus on what’s to come, remember that they’re all a big part of the journey to that finish line. It’s a rollercoaster is this Ironman thing, with big waves of emotions - the better you can navigate your way through it all and stay mostly positive, the better your experience will be.
Enjoy the experience:
As mentioned earlier, it’s a time to reflect and be grateful for everyone and everything in your life that has lead you to being able to be where you are today. It’s a privilege to do this sport, so get out there and enjoy the experience, soak up the atmosphere, the highs and the lows, embrace it all! You deserve to be there, but you are also very lucky to be who you are – adopt an attitude of gratitude!
Go forth and race well. Find your flow, race with grit and above all, embrace everything that comes your way both in taper and race day. It’s one hell of a journey you’ve been on to get there and such a very cool moment in time it will be when you’re smashing down that red carpet like a young Jane Fonda!
“Things work out best for those people who make the most of how things turn out” Coach John Wooden
Coach Scotty Farrell
Click here to find out more about Head Coach Scotty Farrell
An amazing collection of training and racing advice from the T:Zero Multisport coaches- with the occasional guest blogger! Read this blog to help you live your potential!