Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Getting it

There are several schools of thought about why athletes continually get better.  They continue to get stronger, faster and records continue to be broken regularly.  There is one group that says it's the performance enhancing drugs.  Even the athletes that don't get caught are doing them, they have just been lucky.  They use Lance Armstrong as the poster child for this theory.  According to them if those drugs were to be stopped we may never see a record broken again.  Another theory is that training methods keep improving and we keep learning more about not only how to train a muscle but how to feed it as well.  Still another is that it's a natural progression for each generation to be a little better than the last.

I personally think that it's none of these things.  Sure modern medical tests can find out if you are deficient in a vitamin or mineral and you can take supplements legally for those deficiencies.  There is a wealth of information now about training and fueling your muscles.  We have amazing new training equipment and the research is on going.  As far as the natural progression, who really knows.

If indeed athletic perfection were, drugs, scientific training, state of the art equipment and super fueling, then how do we explain the that endurance sports are dominated by the poorer countries.  The South Africans dominate the distance races, they don't have the resources to tap into the science pot but they are the hands down kings of the long distance races.  The industrialized, "developed", nations do excel in the short, sprint events.  Well they did until Usain Bolt came along form the tourist island of Jamaica.

What is the magic that is at work when a Kenyan runner can beat the runners who have access to the best of everything in performance training?  Is it that they are training harder, or smarter or that they are just genetically superior?  Or is it something else.  I believe that it is something else, something that you can't test in the laboratory.  I think that the spark that makes a good athlete great is that the great athlete has figured it out and they can't even explain it.

The 4 minute mile was an impossible goal, runners for many years tried and failed to achieve that magic performance goal.  Then someone did it and it wasn't long before the 4 min mile was broken regularly.  Now the elite athletes go darn near that pace in the marathon.  Athletes viewed the 4 minute mile as impossible until they were shown it was possible.  It was a change in thinking rather than a change in training that made the 4 minute mile a reachable goal.

When Usain Bolt rewrote the record book on the sprint events do you think he was scientifically enhanced?  Did he have a secret training laboratory where he was exposed to the best training and diet?  No he figured out that "something".  Something clicks and then you are suddenly at a higher level than ever before.  The scientists that study such things say that we use only a small portion of what our brains are capable of.  I believe that the great athletes have learned to use more of that brain power to be better athletes.

One of my race walking friends that regularly brings home gold medals from international competitions says this about race walking, "Once you get it, then it's like a switch has been tripped and suddenly you can fly".  Race walking is a technique sport, like runners most of us are just plodding along wondering how the, "Really speedy ones", do it.  Most of them if they are honest don't know either, they just do it. 

What is this magic, mental super power?  I think it's as simple as believing in yourself and training with the mind set that you will accomplish the goals that you desire.  Will that make you a champion?  Well if you don't believe in yourself and work as hard as you can to reach your goals, then no you won't be a champion.  But if you do believe and can see yourself accomplishing your goals and then are willing to put in the hard work, then yes it's possible.

Thanks for reading.


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