Success with Stamina
Success with Stamina
A little blog about being a triathlon coach. Here you'll find a little diary about my activities as a coach, the performances of the people I work with and my thoughts and opinions on what makes athletes faster for longer.

Lessons from the Olympics 2 - Looking in the mirror

AndyBby AndyBAug 22nd 2012
Watching the amazing performances in the Olympics this year I really start to wonder what goes on in the heads of some of these athletes before, during and after competition. This means I am often as interested in their media interviews around the time of their performance whether it ended in a gold medal or not making the final. Over the next few blogs I'll look at things people said, offer my interpretation of them and see if we can learn anything to benefit us.

The first phrase I'll discuss I heard from Bradley Wiggins, Chris Hoy and Dave Brailsford. At times during interviews all three talked about 'looking in the mirror' whether in reference to themselves or others within the British Cycling team. It's well known that British Cycling have an excellent set up surrounding riders with all the support they may need from physiological to psychological to nutritional and beyond and this support and associated processes as just as important as turning up to the training sessions. While I have no in-depth knowledge of what goes on behind the closed doors at British Cycling I am thinking that 'looking in the mirror' is part of the very important reflective process which can help with planning to reach your goals.

To me, 'looking in the mirror' is the ability to openly and honestly assess your own current performance, strengths and weaknesses without the interference of your ego. It's not 'I could have done 'X' if 'Y' was different'; it's not 'my performance could have been better if this, that or the other had not have happened, been said or occurred'. There are no excuses. It is more a case of 'this was my performance, this is me, these are my strengths and weaknesses and these are the weaknesses I need to strengthen if I am to achieve my goals'. Many people find it hard to admit they have a weakness, a chink in the armour but, it is this ability to be honest with ourselves (and those around us such as a coach) which allows the freedom to really understand what needs to change if we are to move forward and achieve our goals. Once we know where we are and where we want to get to we can start to work on what needs to be done and then how we are going to do this.

How can we make use of this practice? Reflection is often done at the end of a race season or after a major race in preparation for the next season/major race. With the major reflection find a time and environment when you can sit down and openly asses your performance, your strengths and weaknesses; sometimes it helps to have someone with you who you trust and can ask you challenging questions that you might otherwise avoid. Write down the facts about your performance such as times, your preparation and events that occurred on race day and be truthful about this; then think about and write down what needs to change if you are to go on to greater things. Minor reflections can be done after smaller races (use a 3 and 3 analysis*) or at given time intervals over the course of the season as a check to see if you are on track to achieve your goals. Once you have this information you can confirm you are on track or look at making changes to make sure you hit the success you deserve. Of course you still need to look at how you are going to get from here to where you want to be and actually make the change, however, this is a very important step in the whole process of planning to succeed.

This whole process is too much for one blog so I'll write more about this at the end of the season. In the meantime think, are you brave enough to look in the mirror?

*A 3 and 3 analysis is a quick check on your performance. Write down 3 things that went well and 3 things that you want to improve on. Then make sure you work on those weaknesses as part of training to improve them at the next event.
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