Despite our best intentions we often judge each other based on our first impressions. People look at you and see who or what you are right then. We might look at someone driving a fancy car like a Porsche or Bentley and assume they are wealthy and often think they know something we don’t or have some sort of skill we are missing that allowed them to become rich.
We might think that making money is easier for them. What we don’t see is the fact that they may have started with nothing. They may have spent years working long hours and eventually got to the stage where making money for them is easy. But that usually takes a long time. (Unless they are only 22 and invented über or hailo or some other internet app. In that case there just an aberration and it did come easy to them and we will ignore them because they are really annoying)
We can sometimes look at a successful athlete in the same way and assume they have some “God given talent” that the rest of us don’t and that’s what got them where they are. It’s easy to think that it’s much easier for them to be fast or strong.
A number of Ironman athletes I know take umbrage with this assumption as they feel like it diminishes the hard work that goes into their performances. Ironman rewards hard work much more than talent and I was lucky enough to learn this early on. I firmly believe I’m not talented at all. I just happen to love training, have a life that allows me train a lot and the guidance of a really smart coach.
I was looking at how my training hours in 2016 compared with previous years when I was either preparing to qualify for, or race Kona and the thing that struck me in the years that I qualified wasn’t any one huge month (although there were a few big ones) but the consistency of month after month, year after year of regular training without interruption. Sure there were easy or off months but even these were “active” and often focused just on one of the three disciplines (most often running) for the off season.
My progression as an athlete followed the progression of training. The longer I kept building the stronger and faster I got. My first year trying to qualify for Kona after 5 months training I missed it by 2 minutes. The second year after about 17 months consistent training I qualified on a roll down, my third season I got a straight qualification even after losing about 10 minutes to a puncture early in the bike.
The mental progression was similar. In the first year I was calculating how fast I needed to go to get the last slot or get a slot if it rolled down. The second year I went into it thinking I could qualify but I was still thinking it would be at the tail end of the slots.
On my third time around with close to three years of consistent good quality training I went in to my qualifying race thinking I could fight for a podium in my age group or even the win. I didn’t win the age group as it happened but my mindset expanded as did my possibilities as I trained and raced more.
Anyone looking at me on just those day’s that I qualified could be forgiven for thinking that I was had gotten there because of some natural talent as opposed to just training, but they would be wrong. What had gotten me to the point that I could qualify for Kona was the accumulation of months and years of consistent training. Not that I had somehow won the genetic lottery.
Ironman is a numbers game. Train lots, train for a long time, train consistently and most importantly do the correct training and you will improve.
You can follow my blog right here as I document my training as I attempt to qualify for Kona again.
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