I really love watching the Olympics, I look past the politics and look at the essence of the sport and the sportsmanship. I look at what has allowed these amazing athletes to become so successful and what we can take from it.
Here are my three big take aways from the Olympics.
In the Men's cross country skiathlon, Norway's Simen Hegstad Kruger was a big favorite to win. In the first 250 yards, Kruger fell, got knocked in the head, and broke his pole. He was now in last place. Without any panic he got back up, grabbed a spare pole, composed himself and set out to rejoin the group. Rather than a huge effort to quickly get back, he worked his way up steadily to the group. With 8km to go he was in the group in fifth place. Then, he put in an early push and ended up crushing his competitors, taking the Gold medal with plenty of room behind him.
The takeaway for triathletes is that regardless of any mishaps during your event or even pre race, from your goggles coming off in the swim, a flat tire on the course, or you can't find your bike in transition (I'm guilty of this one) don't panic. Adapt to the mishap, adjust your strategy accordingly and most importantly stay positive. If Kruger has said to himself that his race was over after his crash, he never would have put on one of the best performances of the Games. So, if you haven't had a major mishap, you will eventually. Make sure you keep you head about you and make smart decisions.
The downhill skiers from Norway, the ones who called themselves the Attacking Vikings, they seemed to know what they were doing. As it turns out, they train as a team, race as a team, and have a lot of fun along the way. This camraderie is not only good for having a good time, but it also creates accountability. Not only can they not skip workouts, they are pushed by their teammates.
So, in your training, the next opportunity you have to train with others, you should do it and do it often. It holds you accountable to attend and to work hard. If Masters Swim club is too early in the morning, make the adjustment to get to the pool for that practice. If there are group rides or runs in your area, especially ones with a group of other triathletes, make an effort to get to those rides. You may find that you push yourself harder in a group setting than you can on your own. You may also find yourself having more fun too. If you want to stay in this sport, it has to be fun.
Did you notice that the most successful athletes there also seemed to either deal with the pressure or simply didn’t have pressure? As one skier pointed out, if your not having fun, whats the point? Yes it's hard work, but in some sense it is also playtime. Sure beats painting your living room, or doing your taxes.
So, from the smallest race to the World Championships, it's not luck that got you there, and it won't be luck getting you across the finish line in a triathlon or a marathon. It will have hard training across many months. In order to have the consistency it takes to be successful, you must have some fun along the way. Maybe it's finding a group to train with (see Lesson 2), maybe it's making your workouts an adventure (ride to that coffee shop in the next town over), or simply enjoy the wind in your face on your bike. Your goals will drive you, but enjoyment will keep you coming back.
Jim Hallberg is certified by both USA Triathlon, USA Cycling and TrainingPeaks. He works with athletes of all ages and abilities and believes in a balanced training program to solidify your strengths and bring up your weaknesses. Jim is also a highly competitive triathlete, having won USAT Nationals in 2007, 2010, and 2016.