Saturday, September 7, 2013

Surround yourself with the very best.

I was swimming at the pool after work a few weeks ago, getting in a short workout on my own in a mostly empty pool, when I overheard the pool's director giving a lesson to a young woman in her ~early-mid 20's. Now, I presume she was paying for these lessons and had willingly subjected herself to this in order to improve her swimming skills so keep that in mind. I think she was nearing the end of what is usually a 30 minute session and she stopped at the end of the far lane as I was getting ready to hop into my lane. She was not what I'd call a great swimmer, but she had the general rhythm down and was moving along well. When she stopped and looked over at her coach, he suggested that she do two more repeats of whatever it was that she was doing (I think it was 50's aka 1 lap down & 1 lap back) and she said the strangest thing- She said, in a whiny sort of voice, "I can't." She just stood there, fussing with her saggy lycra cap, but she did not swim. Her coach, a friend of mine, looked at her and simply said "yes you can, just do 2 more", but she still remained there, not moving and no longer out of breath from whatever previous set she'd done. Again with the whiny "I can't do 2 more!" I was inexplicably flabbergasted. I couldn't figure out why this was striking me in such an odd way, but it was almost as if she was speaking another language. Finally her coach looks over at me and yells across the pool, "Amy! Please tell her she can do 2 more!" I don't know this woman from Adam, but she looks over at me and in my state of bewilderment I nod at her as if to say "of course you can do 2 more, why can't you? You don't appear to be injured or struggling in any way..." but I don't think my message gets across because she's still just standing there, now minutes later. Eventually she slides her goggles back onto her eyes and says, "I can do one more, but not 2" and her coach just waves her on, clearly used to this business of not completing workouts. I slipped quietly into the cool water and pushed off, delving into my first 500yd set, but still thinking about what just happened and wondering why it seemed so odd. Was it because this woman was paying good money for lessons, but not doing the workout? Was it the saggy lycra cap? 
It hit me a few hundred yards in- that woman said "I can't". I don't hear that on a regular basis these days. I haven't heard a whiny "I can't" since I stopped coaching elementary school children a few years ago. She was a grown woman, presumably trying to better herself with lessons, but here she was wasting this opportunity to get better, stronger, more efficient. I probably had a big smile on my face when I finished that first 500yds as I thought to myself, "I surround myself with the very best people. There is no I CAN'T in our vocabulary, we just do it." What a wonderful thought. 

Last month was my biggest training month for Toughman 70.3 (it's tomorrow) and not once did I wake up, look at my schedule and say "I can't". Not once did I sit on my bike at the bottom of a giant hill and think "I can't". I just did. So for anyone out there who has ever asked me how I do the training for big races or told me that they don't think they could do it for XYZ reasons, the answer is simple: I never say I can't and I never accept that from the training partners around me and hope they'd never accept it from me. 
This is the elevation profile from my longest training ride this cycle (and ever!). It looked crazy, but I got up that morning and just did it. I got lost at the end and ended up with 64 miles, but it was such mental practice for my race. 

If all goes according to plan, tomorrow I'll also be able to say I did this: 
                                                  There is no "I can't". 

1 comment:

  1. This is going to seem really weird - I was at the Toughman yesterday taking a few photos of friends doing the race. Anyhow, I was playing with a new lens and grabbed some photos on "maximum" quality to test it out. I wound up grabbing a few photos of you coming out of the swim and on the run. Happy to give them to you if you'd like them - Shoot me an email - peter at shankman dot com - And congrats on the race. :)