Since my foray into the fitness and OCR world, I’ve had the opportunity to observe, race against, and hang out with a lot of serious athletes. Notice the title says “serious”; not “great”, not “avid”, nor a host of other words describing competitive athletes. I mean “serious”, as in “I’m going to do whatever it takes to be the absolute best I can be” kind of serious. I’ve recognized four common themes among these serious athletes. There might be others. You might disagree. I’m willing to discuss.
Number one: Food is for fuel, not pleasure.
No compromising with nutrition. They have their eyes on the prize of a lean, fit, strong, athletic body that allows them to train and perform at their best. The serious competitors never feel guilty about what they eat or drink, because they only consume real foods that get them closer to the prize. It doesn’t mean they eat food they don’t like, but it does mean that willpower is required to prevent the wrong foods at the wrong times from entering the body. Think of it this way, race car drivers don’t occasionally say “aaaggh, let’s just put some coca cola in the fuel tank this time”. Your body is your machine. Treat it right.
Number two: Fitness does not mean you exercise only when it ‘fits’ your schedule
Did you catch how clever that was? Life revolves fitness, not the reverse. The serious competitor is always thinking about what that next workout is going to be and how to make the rest of his/her life fit around it. Friends unexpectedly drop in for a visit during workout time? — let them sit and watch or invite them to join in. Have to catch a plane at 6:00 a.m.? – – workout at 3:00 a.m. Someone schedules a meeting during the time that you train? Tell them you won’t be there! Missing a training session is simply unacceptable. WHATEVER IT TAKES!
Number three: The day actually begins the night before.
The debatable one, but the one that I feel separates the semi-serious from the uber serious. Anyone truly dedicated to performing at their optimal levels makes sure they get enough sleep. The body simply doesn’t function as well without it. For some reason, people see functioning on lack of sleep as a badge of honor, but in reality they aren’t functioning all that well. Can a few select athletes still perform well by shirking sleep? Absolutely. Can they perform at their absolute best with lack of rest? Nope. Research evidence proves that adequate sleep is required for peak performance.
Number four: They thrive on being different
The more pressure that society puts on them to conform, the stronger they resist. Friends tell them that they are weird, odd, strange, deranged, and obsessed, but all that does is evoke a smile of pride and confirms that they are on the right track. Being different is ingrained in their persona and defines who they are. Who wants to be normal, when there is so much wrong with it?
Need further proof?
Out of sheer coincidence, while I was in the middle of composing this post a fellow obstacle racer and serious competitor Eric Matta updated his Facebook status with the text below. It is very apropos, so I leave it as validation that I’m not the only one who thinks this way.
“Eating good, exercising is on point, now I need my sleep! The most basic formula to success ;)”