Everyday I wake up and I know what I am going to put my charges through in that mornings training session. The coach is always prepared. When my athletes ask me what is on the program, I am hesitant to tell them. For 2 major reasons: usually they don’t listen anyway and if they know what tomorrow holds they have got all night to talk themselves out of doing it. Australian marathon guru Rob DeCastella would famously say that when his alarm went off in the morning he’d simply puts his shoes on. and the workout was done. If you stay in bed you’ll find 20 reasons not to get up, but if your shoes are on you don’t take them off until you get home.
For so long I’ve been saying to my athletes – “you turn up and I’ll deliver the fitness.” One of my coaches throughout my amateur boxing career told me that, “the difference between a good session and a bad session is not that much, but if your consistently in the gym you will improve.” This has stayed with me until this day and the more sessions I coach the truer it gets. More hours in the gym coping with hellish workouts and sparring partners who looked like they killed their parents helped me to deal with situations that arose in competition.
Similarly in running, I remember during high school waiting to be told that days workout upon arrival at training. The infamous 8 x 1000m repeat day comes to mind. The reason I was able to eat that session was like Rob DeCastella, once I was there I had to run it. One other time I asked the coach what tomorrow’s workout was. 1 x 2km and 2 x 1km, relatively easy. But throughout the night I was suffering anxiety like a kid before his first day at a new school. I got to training tired and looking for an ‘out’, I’d thought of every reason why that was the wrong session. Needless to say I was whipped in every effort.
It is a great skill for an athlete (or for any person who likes to perform) to be able to deal with situations quickly when they arise. So practice it at training. When I was boxing, I don’t know how many times I was told my opponent had been substituted, or weighed in overweight but we’d already travelled to the fight so let’s take him on, or sometimes our regular coach couldn’t attend the fights so we’d have a different trainer. Not ideal preparation you may think but this was great preparation. I didn’t rely on anyone else to get me ready for the event. If circumstances changed I could be told about it, process it, then perform. The great boxer ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley who has held world titles in 3 weight divisions says, “the only way to always be ready, is to stay ready.” Meaning stay ready for anything, then if suddenly situations change you can deal with it and get the job done.
Far too many people wait for too long for the perfect training run or race. But honestly, when does that ever come? Every training run, race or competition no matter how you perform will prepare you for the day that you perform your best. The only way to perform and set personal records is by turning up everyday and fight for the little wins day after day in the gym or on the track. You could even surprise yourself on a day that you don’t feel so good, but you won’t know if you aren’t out there.
See ya trackside.