I just love an athlete who is knowledgeable and thoroughly reflected in what he or she is is actually working on and why. Recently, I talked to a professional athlete who had some incredibly interesting approaches about mindset. Now I’m sharing what I learned from him with you. Some of it is very obvious but it is the way the told me that made what he said stick in my brain.
In my work and my own practice as an athlete I have met semi-pro and professional athletes who doesn’t know their biceps from their triceps, so to speak. People hardly know how to use their heart rate in endurance training, who do not know the difference in effects of 4RM and 20RM, because more reps must be better, right? For what purpose? I will ask. Semi-pros who think they can survive the rest of the day and build muscle on 3 rice cakes after a hard morning session or who think they are working their ass off (literally) trying to drop weight for an event or for life, but nothing is happening in that department. Some people, athletes or other, don’t know anything about how their body works. It is not that you need to know a lot, some basics will go a long way.
“Nobody ever told me how anything works, so no shame in that”, you might say. Wrong! Big shame. At least if you have been doing this for a while. Here is another one: “I will just do what my trainer tells me, he or she knows how and why and that’s enough for me”. Well, it shouldn’t be. If you want to succeed in improving your physical and cognitive performance, if you want to excel at something, you should really know what you are doing, right?
So, this athlete that I talked to told me that a couple of years ago he had a conversation with a prominent psychologist, who have also worked with British cyclists and individual premier league football players. The psychologist told him that, for him, the most important thing on the road to success is that the athlete takes proper ownership in his or her career. You can have a coach, a nutritionist, a physiotherapist – a support team, but ultimately you are responsible for what will happen with you and your career. The coach is not the one on the starting line, and nobody can do the race and reach your goals for you. It is all on you and you are wearing the crown.
…how else will you know the validity of what someone is telling you…
It can be a bit scary to think that your are in this alone, none of us are champions at every aspect of what we are trying to achieve and we all need someone in our corner, so by all means seek qualified help along the way.
Because taking ownership means to educate yourself on what you need to be doing to reach your goals and why. If you don’t, how else will you know the validity of what someone is telling you if you don’t have any rough knowledge of your own to base new information off of. You can get tricked! This goes for everything in life, and your goals are too important for anyone to lead you down blind paths.
I think this is so powerful and important to be reminded of. So wear your crown and wear it proudly, with all the responsibility that comes with it.
To sum things up, taking ownership of your training means…
- …to be curious and inquisitive: Ditch bro-science and seek qualified advice. Ask “why” a lot (not annoyingly a lot, but you get the picture).
- …to educate yourself: If you want to enroll in higher sports science education, good for you, but there are so many good quality resources out there and a lot of them are online and free! Any knowledge and information you might be interested in is out there and available to you in a book, an article, on a blog, in a podcast, at a course or seminar og in the form of an actual person whose brain you might be able to pick.
- And remember, you are the average of the people you spend the most time with: Surround yourself with a tribe of people that you what to learn from by observing, listening and getting taught by them.
These are just my reflections and I completely agree with what Mr. Athlete told me. If you are serious about your goals, of course trust your trainer and the road he or she have mapped out for you, but take ownership of your journey and make sure you know the validity of what you are being told and taught. Your trainer is like your teacher, and you would ask your teacher questions wouldn’t you?