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The patient athlete

Posted Jun 13 2013 8:06pm



Are you a goal setter? Do you keep your eye on the prize day in and day out? My life functions the best with goals. I wake up excited to see what the day may bring and I go to bed, anxious for another opportunity tomorrow. I would assume that if you read this blog, you are motivated and passionate about health and fitness and I hope that you are spreading your wonderful energy to your friends and family in order to inspire others to live a more balanced active and healthy lifestyle.

In the case of making progress as an athlete - such as building endurance, speed, confidence, mental toughness and skills, it takes a lot of work and much like studying for an exam, you can't cram for a race in 1 week and expect great results. You may be able to fake your performance (unlikely in longer distance races) but the body is not going to retain much after the race. You have to be patient and not always do things happen when you'd like for them to happen.

There is a lot of continuous work that goes into great race day performance and the work is not always achieved in one season or in a few months. It takes a lot of effort to reach goals and many times, impatience keeps athletes from reaching what is very possible in the mind and in the heart.

We all know how to push when we are about to break and often times, we make progress this way. But then there are times when we push and make no progress and instead, move backwards. Not sure about you but I wouldn't want to be in a marathon and move  backwards when everyone is moving forward. The same thought applies to training. We each have our own ways to move forward but get caught up with rushing the process as to the "best" way or being like others and so, while others move closer to their goals by doing things their way, you may find yourself struggling to keep up. The mind may be strong but the body is tired, exhausted and burn out. Does too much too soon come to mind? Or perhaps, fear-based training?

Every athlete and fitness enthusiast will have set backs in life, set backs with fitness and set backs with goal reaching. Much like the satisfaction you get when you have a fantastic workout and physically feel yourself pushing to a higher limit, this same enjoyment should come from overcoming obstacles when you never thought that you could not succeed. By being patient, not only will you enjoy your great workouts even more but you will not feel overwhelmed when setbacks come into your path.

In training for 6 Ironmans (Placid being #6 in 6.5 weeks), I have learned that there is no "perfect" way to train for an Ironman. At the end of the day, you have to be patient with the process and most of all, you have to enjoy it. Many athletes, regardless of sport or distance of choice (racing or participating) have been limited in personal success because rather than accepting the progress that has been (and is still being) made, they search inside and out (thanks to social media/blogs/books/articles) for a faster, better or easier approach. New equipment,  a different fit on the bike, different nutrition, extreme changes in training...just a few that come to mind.

I think many active individuals (runners, triathletes) would feel comfortable using the title "type A" at times when it comes to training, racing, the diet, work and life.

" Type A personalities may have traits that lead to better performances in life and sport. Type A personalities generally have higher need for achievements and their behavior pattern is often associated with the success of an entrepreneur.

(Reference here )

Since I started competitive swimming at the age of 10 or 11, I have always lived my life as an athlete. My brain is trained to perform daily and because of that, there is not struggle to workout everyday (or move my body). I don't consider myself an athlete who stresses or over analyzes races, for my competitive spirit often desires the opportunity to be beat by those who are faster than me in order to help me push myself to be better. I try to look at the positives in every race rather than determining my success based on a finish place or time.

Because of my natural desire to be challenged in life, I have learned to enjoy the journey of reaching goals. The best journey is when you have your eyes set on a goal but you enjoy the journey more than the thought of even reaching that goal. Reaching the goal then becomes a bonus.

 If you know me well, I am an open book when it comes to goals and I am not afraid to talk about my goals and how hard I am willing to work for them. I've blogged about wanting to qualify for Kona at my Ironman's and other personal goals with my career.  I firmly believe that life has not been easy for me. Sports, school, life....I have encountered many struggles, obstacles and set-backs while trying to reach my goals.

So, therefore...patience is the most powerful weapon that I can carry with me in my journey of life.

If you are impatient and wish time to fly by, it's likely that you will struggle with reaching goals. Accumulation of hard work leads to great performances. Life, work, sports...even if you work hard but are impatient you will find yourself trying to take short-cuts or too many risks to try to progress too quickly.

You don't have to be an athlete to carry the unfortunate trait of impatience. Want to lose weight quickly? The fitness/supplement/diet industry can help you with that. Quick fixes and extreme efforts sell well. Instant gratification is what our society thrives off of as very few people desire to be the tortoise when you can be the hare. When people want results yesterday, it's no surprise that something that can be accomplished quickly is much more fulfilling than something that takes time to achieve.
Some progress is better than no progress. But if you have a goal and don't see extreme results in a week or two, how long will it take you to forget your goal and move on to another method to see if "that way" will be faster. Bouncing around from attempt after attempt is nothing more than feeling defeated by a challenge without realizing your true potential to achieve success.

There are no short cuts in life. I learned this about a year after obtaining my Master of Science degree in Exercise Physiology.
Wanting to do more with nutrition for active bodies and desiring to take my passion for public speaking and writing to the next level, I was told by many that I would need to obtain a Registered Dietitian credential to be qualified and licensed to "practice" nutrition.

For three years, I was forced to be patient. You can't rush time, especially when it comes to education. Unlike sports, doing more and wanting it now was not going to happen. The saying quality of quantity could not have been more true than during my 10 month dietetic internship. I learned more than I ever imagined and my initial dreams of having my own business and taking my passion for speaking to the next level were combined with a new love of clinical nutrition.

Throughout my dietetic journey, I also realized the true value of patience. Hard work in both sport and life will pay off but you can't expect results tomorrow if you haven't put in the time to learn lessons, to overcome obstacles, to feel defeat and perhaps, become someone who you never imagined you could be.


Life is not easy. I see nothing wrong with "I can't" being part of your vocabulary because you are acknowledging that something may not be possible that you are thinking about trying. But...how do you know it isn't possible if you don't try and get started now?

I have never allowed can't (for I have said it many times) to override "I can."

If there are any takeaways from this blog post, my hope is that you will never give up on your goals. Its much better to achieve a goal in 1,2 or 10 years than to think to yourself in 1,2 or 10 years....."what if I only tried a bit harder to be more patient with my approach and never gave up."


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