Monday, July 9, 2012

Train Like An Olympic Athlete

With the London 2012 Games coming upon us, I thought it might be interesting to see what it takes to get to this level of competition.

I have been fortunate in having the opportunity to meet, treat, and travel with a few elite level athletes. What has been most striking for me, is what sets these people apart. Sure, they are faster, stronger, and more skilled; but the real difference is what goes on their heads.

The Good Life?

It's funny - When we think of Olympic Athletes, we often get the image that they are living a great life outside their training. Nice house, nice car, get to eat well, get to travel to wonderful places, make a lot of money. . .

Far from it. Except for a very few countries, winning a medal itself, merits very little monetary value.
In Canada, a gold medal will earn you $20,000. Silver and bronze medalists will receive $15,000 and $10,000 respectively. The USOC pays a similar amount of $25,000 , $15,000, and $10,000 for each medal.

Other than that, there is very little pay for training year round for a chance to compete once every 4 years. Housing tends to be the cheapest rental available, hostels when travelling, and a lot of fast food. Unless one is able to get endorsements or private sponsors, this is NOT the place to make a living.

My image of the true Olympic Athlete has grown to be this - A person who competes for the true love and joy of the sport and competition. If you want money and glory, get into pro sports; and good luck to you.

So, How Do They Do It?

So, even if you have the talent, how do Olympic Athletes reach the highest level? Here are the things I've consistently seen in the elite athletes.

1. Focus.
When training, these guys aren't watching TV or reading a book while on the treadmill. If you're running you're running. No distractions.  Weight training isn't a time to catch up on gossip or talk about what happened last night. Do your reps, and focus on technique and getting stronger.

2. Train Hard. No. Correction. Train Harder.
These are the guys out running, rowing, swimming at 5 in the morning while you're still sleeping. These are the guys doing wind sprints and hill repeats in the pouring rain and howling wind. This is the guy on the stationary bike beside you that gets up and goes harder after you think they can't possibly last any longer.

3. Learning Something From Every Competition.
Whether the athlete won or lost their event, the best of the best learn something from the competition. From learning something about themselves, about their competitors, their technique, whatever, they are always striving to get better. For many of us, we are satisfied with just completing something. These guys feed off the competition and want more. Constantly.

What Can I Take Away From All This?
We may never be Olympic Athletes ourselves, but some of their methods are worth applying to everyday life.

Focus on your task at hand. Be it at work, play, with the kids, whatever; we all are too distracted with "other stuff". Stop texting, watching TV, surfing the web, and focus on what you're really supposed to be doing. Enjoy it.

If you're doing something, go hard. Be it at the gym, at work, playing an instrument. Put everything you've got into it, and when you think you've done all you can, do just a little more. That's satisfaction.

Take a minute after you're done, and try to reflect on how to make it better.

Have a great day, and keep up the comments!

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