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As February turns to March and the promise of spring creates an itch to get outdoors, our minds begin to focus on epic rides, fondos, races, Strava KOM’s/QOM’s or whatever else this passion of ours lays before us. Over the many years of coaching and working with athletes of all levels I’ve often tried to identify what makes certain riders successful and others not. In this article I have distilled the most valuable success drivers into 5 areas of focus that each athlete can work on and improve.
- Define your own success – We are all unique and have different levels of competitiveness, physical ability, time, family commitments, etc. With that in mind it only makes sense that success is a derivative of each.
- A clear plan including goals – John Wooden is famous for saying “those who fail to plan are planning to fail”. This rings true with athletic success. Our bodies are mechanisms that require training and fine tuning to be optimally prepared for whatever work we put it through. The most successful athletes create goals, both major and minor, and develop a plan that progressively prepares them to meet the goals. By having minor or interim goals they can evaluate if the plan is achieving it’s purpose and make the necessary adjustments. Without the structure and check-ins of a plan there is no effective way to predict what outcome can be achieved.
- Balance – Often we become so focused on one area of our skillset (or life) that we sacrifice improvement. It is a natural tendency for a climber to want to spend the bulk of their time hammering away on the local uphill ascent, however, they risk under-developing necessities such as leg speed, an improved aerodynamic position, flat-land power, etc. Athletes need to train in all areas of the sport to become well rounded. Likewise, do not become so singularly focused with the sport and your goals that you neglect your family, job, or other interests. Balance is the key for both physical and mental development.
- Time – As the saying goes, there is no substitute for hard work. Getting your body to respond to exercise requires time and patience. Time is perhaps the biggest investment you can make toward success because it requires sacrificing something else in your life (family time, social life, etc). When you choose to make the investment of your time you want to make the sacrifices are worth it.
- Attitude – Without a doubt, this is the biggest attribute that determines how far each athlete will go, and the good news is that this is completely within your control. Say what you want about having the physiology, but it’s the attitude that riders choose that ultimately defines their success. Sure, physiology is important (most especially at the higher levels of the sport), but achieving your potential requires dogged determination, willingness to grind out fitness through hard work, and a positive mental attitude that allows you to push through barriers (including failure) that feel impossible. Never say die!
In summary, think through these attributes and realize that the greatest factors that lead to your success are within your control. As athletes, we are most limited by our environment and how much we are willing to sacrifice in pursuit of our passions and goals. If you are having a hard time getting started toward becoming your best, or simply want to discuss some ideas we are here to help.
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