Category Archives: Everything Else

Looking back and looking forward

Completing Challenge Penticton brings this current phase of my season to an end.  With back to school tomorrow, this seems like perfect time to reflect on my summer of training.  For me, this season has been about opening doors to what didn’t seem possible. I first came across this idea of opening doors to the adjacent possible in Steven Johnson’s book, ‘Where Good Ideas Come From.” His idea that innovation happens when a steady accumulation of smaller doors keep opening to create a space where ideas mix appeals to me. My training this year seems to have created this kind of space. Some might call it a breakout year. But really it’s been a set of steps. They haven’t all been easy. In fact, I think that’s why it’s worked. I have a whole new definition of hard. I’ve had some of the epic fails that are necessary for moving forward. The most memorable of which was a hill repeat workout that had me scared of falling off my bike and then spinning home defeated. But I got back out there. My coach Stephanie took me back out the next week and believed in me and I started to believe too. I conquered that hill. As I know well from interacting my students, a key step of learning can often involve taking a step backward first (Perrault, 2011). It’s like an a little dance.

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My season isn’t over, in fact, in some ways it’s just starting. [cue the Mexican mariachi music]

I feel lucky to have coaches that believe in me. Thanks, Bjoern, for putting together training plans that open doors. Cozumel, here I come, with a whole new idea of what is possible.

Mental Skills “Toolkit”

Last week at swim practice, we had Shaunna Taylor, sports psychologist with Triathlon Canada come talk with us about our mental skills “toolkit”. She gave a short talk full of practical tips, stories from her experiences working with Olympic athletes, and worksheets for us to take home.

It was awesome.

For example, she presented an idea about using a personal highlight reel as a visualization tool during a race. Since her talk, I have been purposeful about collecting and writing down highlights from good training days this week to use in racing.

I am armed and ready … cue the music!

Talent vs Hard Work

Does it take talent to be good at triathlon?  Or, does it take everyone exactly the same amount of time to become an expert?  The prevailing myth in our culture is that the sportswomen, scientists, and writers that we admire are born with gifts. They were born with a natural ability to kick a soccer ball, had minds that understood chemistry, or could just write beautiful prose. But, current research shows this is not true. Every one of us has the potential to become a PRO. 

I went to a talk today about how to help students learn to think more like experts and the speaker reminded me of research results indicating that innate talent is not linked to performance.  Instead, it’s all about deliberate practice (i.e. the kind of practice that a good coach or teacher guides you through).  And, it takes everyone approximately the same amount of time to become an expert at anything. In the end, if you want to improve at something it’s all about hard work, the attitude you adopt while training… and seeking out feedback from experts.

This article by Colvin entitled, “What it takes to be great” sums up these findings well:

This race (and my next big race) is a celebration of all the fun times that I’ve had training for the event over the past year.