The father of a client just sent me this blog post from Siri Lindley, a former world triathlon champion. It exemplifies how complete dedication to athletic greatness can be both a essential boon to success and a cross to bear. It also provides an important juxtaposition between attempting to control and prepare for everything that impacts performance (necessary) and the need to let go of all control when it comes time to perform. The post also illustrates in a brutal fashion the Robert Burns adage “The best laid plans of mice and men.”
As a “lapsed” triathlete (a few Ironmans and a bunch of shorter triathlons), I can completely relate to what Siri describes (just much slower than she!). In the days leading up to my 1st Ironman in Lake Placid, I was really nervous and afraid because I was so focused on achieving my time goal and so worried that I wouldn’t. After a talk with my coach, I decided to completely let go of my time goal to the extent that I taped over my watch so I couldn’t see how fast I was going. The result: I had a great race, finished strong, and surpassed my time goal.
In my 2nd Ironman in Coeur d’Alene, after months of assiduous preparation, but race-day temperatures near 100, the wheels fell off during the bike (not literally; major cramping) and, despite what I do for a living, I was totally unprepared for the unexpected. Though I finished (barely, after an unsteady run/walk marathon), it was incredibly painful physically and emotionally.
I love Siri’s two pieces of advice:
- Prepare for both best- and worst-case scenarios.
- Care, but don’t care too much about the results.