April L., an amazing athlete and online coaching client from Florida, sent me the photo above. The photo is of her training through a tropical storm. Sprints were on her program, and she wasn’t going to let a bit of rain stop her from getting her work done.
The photo raises an interesting question . . . would you run through the rain if your program called for you to do so?
Ok, I don’t really care if you would run through actual rain, but I would like for you to consider whether you are committed, focused and motivated enough that you would not let inconveniences stand in your way of doing what you know will help to bring you closer to your goal.
We all face myriad distractions that can keep us from achieving the things we really want in life. Unforeseen circumstances force us to change course, or supply obstacles not initially expected. It’s how you react to these circumstances that matters most.
I have had the opportunity to work with some phenomenal athletes, and the most successful have distinguished themselves not only in their athletic performances, but by the traits they demonstrate throughout their training. There are three principal traits that I believe can help someone guarantee their success in reaching any goal (fitness-related and otherwise).
Goal achievers keep their eyes on the prize. It is impossible to distract them from their goal. No matter what is going on around them, they prioritize the work that must be done to bring them closer to their goal.
When the 2011 regional workouts were announced, Josh Bridges could not perform forward double-unders. He was a wizard with backwards double-unders, but could link only 2-3 forward double-unders on most days. The good news was, he had about 6 weeks to practice double-unders before regionals. The bad news was that he was going to be gone 4 of the 6 weeks. For 4 of the 6 weeks he was obligated to working 14+ hours a day. Much of that time was spent on his feet in full gear. Regardless, Josh kept a jump rope on him at all times and any time he could take a break, he would break out his rope and get a few practice sets in. The result was a record breaking performance on the 100s workout, and breaking the 100 double-unders into only 3 sets.
Focus also means having a limited number of goals. You cannot commit yourself fully to a dozen different things. Pick one, two or maybe a few, and devote yourself to seeing them through. If the goal is worth achieving, give it your all – that is the only way you will guarantee to make it happen.
Focus and clarity of the goal has to be the starting point, but that alone will not get you there. You must have the commitment and discipline to fight through the inconveniences and sacrifices associated with achieving your goal. Ask any one of the athletes training to compete at Games when the last time they had a weekend to themselves. They have sacrificed countless hours with friends and family to ensure that they are as prepared as possible to perform when it matters most. Most of them have also overcome some nagging injuries and/or spent a sizable portion of their budget on massage, acupuncture, ART, etc… to make sure their body is as healthy as possible. Throughout it all, the top performers never balk or doubt the journey. They accept that the reward of achieving their goal far outweighs the sacrifices endured to get there. They don’t miss training sessions, they don’t complain, and they don’t question the process.
Will power only lasts so long. Most people do a great job of staying focused and committed for a week or two, but if you’re not motivated by a deeper purpose, the long journey to goal achievement can be overwhelming. Goal achievers are enthusiastic about the journey. The top athletes don’t train begrudgingly, they’re excited to the be in the gym. In fact, the biggest problem with top athletes is often keeping them from doing too much and overtraining. They love what they’re doing. If you don’t love what you’re doing, or at least love the reward that will come from what you are doing, the sacrifices and distractions are sure to wear you down. Find the deeper purpose in what you are doing. Make sure you know why you are doing it, and make sure that reason syncs up with your personal values.
There are many other traits that top athletes exhibit, but these three might be the most important for anyone setting out to achieve any goal – fitness-related or otherwise. I encourage you to put them in play. Select a goal that you would like to achieve; spend some time to create clarity of vision for what the successful achievement of your goal will look like; eliminate as many distractions as possible; commit to prioritizing your goal above all other distractions and inconveniences; and understand the meaning in what you are doing. If you can do these things, you’re capable of almost anything.