I know plenty of well-educated, intelligent, and logical people who, when faced with an opportunity that sounds too good to be true, will jump right in and believe it anyway. Perhaps you are one of them. Perhaps this author has been one of them.
We have all heard of these so-called "Magic Pills" to replace diet and exercise, for beautiful, wrinkle-free skin, or a full, thick head of hair. Well, I have a Magic Pill to sell to my triathlete friends.
I'm not promising perfect skin or a dramatic weight loss, but my Magic Pill is a sweat-free, bomb-proof way to lock in your best season ever. This is not a trial offer. It is available to you at no cost. Do I have any takers? If so, please read on.
The Fine Print
First, let's review the ground rules, as everyone knows that all things pill-related must adhere to strict regulatory requirements:
- This Magic Pill must be ingested several times a day, and must be taken consistently as long as the athlete is engaging in challenging physical activity.
- The Magic Pill is actually manufactured in-house. That is, in your house. That's right—I'll sell it to you, but ultimately, you make it.
- And it only has one active ingredient.
The Secret Ingredient
Well, not entirely, because that one active ingredient is where we lose many customers; they search high and low and cannot come up with the crucial ingredient. It cannot be manufactured outside your home, and nobody can give it to you. You cannot pay for it.
The Magic Pill is essentially just a concentrated dose of the driving force behind why you do what you do.
The "Why." It is harder to define (and find) than one might think. It is the active ingredient necessary to lock in your best season ever, and yet it remains so elusive to so many athletes.
Why we do what we do is so important to define, as it is what gives us the motivation to push through when the going gets tough. Some athletes are externally motivated by image, money or popularity (or notoriety!), for example. Many of us are internally motivated; while we will fight like dogs out on the race course, we are ultimately racing ourselves, and gain immense satisfaction from conquering the personal challenge we place before ourselves—whether on a solo training day or with 1,000s of other athletes on race day.
Some do it for a charity. Others do it for the plain old reason that they want to stay fit, and they're sick of going to a cardio class at the gym. That works, too.
Directions for Use
The point is that we all need to know why we are doing what we are doing, because if that is not clearly defined, it gets awfully hard to push through when nobody is looking, it is cold and dark outside, and the couch is looking more comfortable than the bike seat.
Knowing the why is also a powerful tool in your arsenal when the nerves and pressure start to pile up closer to race day. A healthy dose of nervous energy is absolutely a good thing, but it is important not to let it consume you to the point where your confidence takes a hit, because when that happens, performance is right behind it.
The why is a constant reminder—a safe haven that we can return to when our minds start to race and we begin to question ourselves and our abilities. It brings us back to reality, helps us refocus, and keeps us grounded. It is motivating, calming, exciting, and confident.
Stop swimming, biking, and running just for a moment. Look inside yourselves and identify what fuels your fire, and ignite it every day. Recognize and celebrate what it is that excites you about this sport.
Spend a little bit of training time to actually evaluate why you have chosen to dedicate your emotional, physical, and material resources to this activity. Write it down. Tell your coach, your family, and your training partners. Look at it daily, and create a little phrase out of that motivation to repeat during some of your tough training sessions.
When the pressure starts to pile on (which is likely self-piled, by the way), don't stray too far from the primary reason for engaging in that activity in the first place. A sense of calm will undoubtedly surround you, and through the additional clarity comes better focus. Performance is always likely to be better when we are laser-focused and with a clear sense of direction, all else considered equal.
Find your active ingredient and manufacture your Magic Pill. It will only help you throughout your training and on race day...and Doping Control will never be the wiser!
Amy Kloner is a professional triathlete and multisport coach for The Sport Factory in Atlanta, GA. She is a former amateur world champion and two-time national champion duathlete. Amy is passionate about the sport on and off the race course, whether she is competing, coaching, or working as a bilingual race announcer for several international Ironman events. Amy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.amykloner.com.