THE FORUMS

December 9th, 2016
Lessons learnt in elite sports
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Watts

Watts

Senior Member

Join Date: 01/11/2013 | Posts: 286

Hey guys,

So I've been posting on the Main Forum a bit in the last few days. For some reason I just really feel the need to express myself and I've also got a daily challenge to write for 60 minutes every day. So I'm going to bash out a post here about what I learnt training and competing in elite sports.

Yes I know this isn't directly game-related, but my experience within game is limited and if you want to see what I've learnt so far then click on my field reports.

In my early teens I fell in love with endurance sports. In high school I took up cycling, running, gym programs and got completely enamored by the whole idea of human endurance. In high school I would run up to 100km a week and quickly started winning cross country races and athletics and what-not. After school was over I continued this and went into long-distance triathlon. I continued this until I was 21, about 5 years of full on training.

Now I want to add here that I'm not a pro, I wasn't cometing on a world stage or making money off the sport. But I was surrounded by people who were. I trained with Olympic athletes and world champions. My day-to-day training partner will be racing at the Rio olympics in 3 years. I, myself, wasn't an overly exceptional athlete. I am neither talented nor did I start young enough to really succeed in it. But the experience over the years was so important to who I am that I wanted to spill here some lessons that I learnt, so that maybe you guys can take something from them.

I guess I'll start off with a little bit of what it looks like to maintain a level of training with these top guys. Every day, rain, hale or shine, I got up at 4.30-5am, winter or summer for the better part of 5 years. I had a coffee and toast, got on my bike and rode to either the pool or hit the road for a 2-3 hour ride. After the first session I'd eat and either go to University or meet up with my training partners for session #2. We'd hit that session out just as hard as the first one. Then we'd eat and either call it a day, or hit session #3, again, just as hard as the first one. Every single day we did 2-3 sessions, up to 6 hours of training. You get used to doing this.

On discipline for a moment. This is a skill that is built up. You build the mental habits you need over time. At first I missed a lot of early morning sessions. But after being bludgeoned by the coach and getting a better alarm clock, I trained myself to get up early. I also spent a lot of time doing things to increase willpower. One winter I purposely only wore a t-shirt and shorts despite it being the coldest winter in my city. It hurt like shit, but it meant I could get up at the coldest time of day to do my training without struggling so much. You automatically notice how things in your diet affect you and alter them. You notice that if your sleep falters, your performance suffers. This stuff all happens organically as long as you dedicate your mind to a purpose. That's why Owen always just tells people to GO OUT! If you do the work, your brain automatically notices and auto-corrects inconsistencies.

One of the hardest things to deal with in sports like this is the disconnect between work and result. You don't just do a 36 hour training week then expect to be faster the next week. All you do is slightly improve your neurology every time, and strengthen your muscles maybe 0.1%. The progression and improvement takes years. When I first started I could barely win a fun run. Then after a year or so I was coming mid-field. Then after another year I was the best in my age-group, so I had to step up to the opens. Then after a year or so I was mid-field there and started pushing in the higher fields. When I first started racing in professional races (with $10000+ prize pots) I came last pretty much every race. Whenever I read about guys hitting the gym or going out for like a year and not getting improvements, I want to cringe. You will only improve yourself a few percent each year. But the improvement starts to snowball and you start breaking more plateaus the longer you do it.

An interesting thing that I always noticed when I started training with the really top guys was that they were completely humble and completely normal. Maybe when a non-athlete looks at them they might think 'oh my God you're incredible how do you do that?', but these guys have spent 10 years getting to that stage! For them doing this shit is easy. Doing a 9 hour race balls out is completely normal because they started at 0 then worked up to it over 10 years. It's not an exertion of will at the top level. Michael Phelps doesn't get in the water and draw some superhuman power out to make it happen. Owen doesn't go into the club and do some superhuman confidence shit. These guys focus on the tiny little things, day after day, to get the improvements. Then when they have to compete, they work within their limits, but their limits have swelled to include what seems to be inhuman. Like coach Gambetta says, 'train hard, race easy'.

So yeah, they are really normal people. In fact the guys who are really the best, the world champions, are the most normal. Why? Because they have to dissolve their ego's to get to this level. They need to break down every little thing that they do to make sure their training and preparation is optimal for the best result. It's not even about them. It's about their performance and their race. The amateurs don't get this.

The best guys also don't respect talent as much as they respect work. Like I said at the start, I wasn't very talented. For the first 3-4 years of training and competing, I was a complete outsider. Only my coach and I knew that I wanted to really succeed in my sport and that my work was reflective of that. After other athletes saw my improvement due to consistent hard work, I was generally accepted as a member of the whole 'pro athlete' scene. I was still one of the slowest athletes at most elite races, but no one minded. The other athletes understood that this is something you have to work on for a very long time. They don't shoot each other down for their limitations. They will only shoot eachother down for lack of effort.

Another characteristic of most pros is that they want you to succeed. If you beat them, they're annoyed. But not at you. Every pro is happy for everyone elses success. They are already doing everything that they can to win. There is no point for them to be upset if they lose. Of course the emotions do take over and they can get annoyed, but they will usually direct it to their preparation, mechanicals or nutrition. They find the reason they didn't win and they fix it. They don't just run off butthurt. This is the same in entrepreneur circles for instance. Every successful guy wants you to be successful. They won't do the work for you, but they will be very very happy when you are up on their level next to them. 

All of these points don't just apply to athletes. They also fully apply to business, pickup, any field where there is a learning curve. The biggest point I wanted to make was that even guys who are the best in the world at a discipline which is idealised in Western culture, are just guys doing work. There is no divide between you and them. If you want to be one of them you probably need to start at about 13 years of age to reach that level before your body declines. BUT in other fields, i.e. business and pickup, it isn't age-limited. You can start at 25-30-35, and still reach a top level IF YOU WANT. If you are willing to drop your bullshit ideas, start at the bottom and put in the work it takes to reach the top. Trust me, the guys at the top want you there with them. They will never judge you. They will watch you with interest and when you're ready, they'll accept you as a peer. 

I'm gonna keep updating this little article as I think of more stuff. Hopefully you took something from it.

If you have any questions or any advice on how I can improve my writing, please leave a comment or pm me.
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#1

G00SE

Senior Member

Join Date: 05/22/2013 | Posts: 152

 This is a good post thanks for writing this.
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#2
jlaix

jlaix

Instructor | Trusted Member

Join Date: 08/20/2006 | Posts: 8800

This should be stickied
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#3
Striver

Striver

Senior Member

Join Date: 07/02/2013 | Posts: 171

great
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#4
ventidue

ventidue

Senior Member

Join Date: 01/29/2013 | Posts: 253

 Thank You!
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#5
The Duck ✘

The Duck ✘

Trusted Member

Join Date: 12/02/2006 | Posts: 1353

Tremendous value and depth in this thread. Thanks a lot for posting this!
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Brad '09 BC Alumni ✘ Alexander 3x BC Assistant ✘ Former RSD Intern ✘ Copenhagen, Denmark ✘ SWAG
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#6
Talent

Talent

Senior Member

Join Date: 05/25/2012 | Posts: 226

Clutch
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#7
Quadrewple

Quadrewple

Senior Member

Join Date: 08/20/2012 | Posts: 237

Watts wrote:
One of the hardest things to deal with in sports like this is the disconnect between work and result. You don't just do a 36 hour training week then expect to be faster the next week. All you do is slightly improve your neurology every time, and strengthen your muscles maybe 0.1%. The progression and improvement takes years. When I first started I could barely win a fun run. Then after a year or so I was coming mid-field. Then after another year I was the best in my age-group, so I had to step up to the opens. Then after a year or so I was mid-field there and started pushing in the higher fields. When I first started racing in professional races (with $10000+ prize pots) I came last pretty much every race. Whenever I read about guys hitting the gym or going out for like a year and not getting improvements, I want to cringe. You will only improve yourself a few percent each year. But the improvement starts to snowball and you start breaking more plateaus the longer you do it.
Very true - in sports and everything else.  Many people are simply not mature enough to accept the fact that incrimental progress is the path to success and they're so addicted to instant gratification that they won't work at anything that requires using the snowball effect to get results.  Doing what you did with your endurance activities will give you a sense of pride each and every day that you're not just lying around stagnating.

You weren't holding yourself to the pro athletes standards of results but you were holding yourself to their work ethic standards, and that's definitely the best way to approach it.
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#8

TheFinisher

Respected Member

Join Date: 05/17/2011 | Posts: 861

 Awesome post, man. Insightful.
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#9

Chai

Member

Join Date: 12/07/2012 | Posts: 97

 Question...

What did you do about injuries in your time on such an elite scale?

I've got some tendonitis or something weird in my arm and feel that it is not wise to go 100% on it cause then I'll just exacerbate and make it worse (yes I do plan on seeing a doctor pretty soon).
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When you TRULY find out, I think that is when you become undeniably attractive to women.

You become that true flawless natural walking up with that full glass of value."

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#10
richie rich

richie rich

Trusted Member

Join Date: 05/15/2012 | Posts: 1152

 I will say this...competing with men in elite professional sports is 100x harder than seducing women in a nightclub. 
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