Wednesday, 28 December 2011

All about the details

Healthy or not?

Downloaded here (so it must be healthy...)

Being an athlete is not for everyone. A nomadic lifestyle with several hundred days of travel each year, staying in cheap motels along busy highways in southern Europe. All that while your family is living on  another continent. So next time you're watching a cyclist on tv, and openly expressing your envy in him/her sporting SRAM red and a $10000 bike, have that in mind. And this is before I have begun with the countless hours on the bike over several years in every weather possible. Most of us have the advantage to choose most of the times we're going for a ride, a pro hasn't.

From time to time I think this is an issue most tend to leave out, persistence and attention to details, every single detail. Let's go through some of the basics:

Several years ago I got to know the nutrition plan belonging to a WC in biathlon. Speaking of details, I had never seen anything like that, completely broken down every meal possible with calories, vitamins and minerals to every vegetable and dish. If I remember correctly, the MS word document was around 35 pages. 
Double Olympic gold medallist Olaf Tufte says he don't sacrifice anything, he "just prioritize differently for some years", apparently aware that most athletes, at least those who succeed, have only a few years on top of their game.  

I admire people who know stuff I don't, that is something I've been doing my entire life. Not just limited to sports, I might add. People who invest so much time in themselves and their body over so many years, while others study and gets MBAs, really need to know their machinery; their own body to perform at their best. How does the body reacts to 8 hour sleep versus 10 hours? Is there a difference between the amount of sleep before a race and training? What kind of food do I eat before a race, two days before to be at my very best? This level of detail makes you wonder how some athletes continue to fight the ADAM, while having such focus on detail on every other aspect of their life.

Imagine the level of detail needed in a GT like the giro or the tour. Remember Nibali was flown down from some mountain top finishes in helicopter to maximize the recoverytime. One thing is the strictly physical part, another is tactics, press, sponsors, waiting time for massage and dinner. Not to mention the work I know pretty well, the mental training needed to stay focused when needed. 

What does it take? Talent or training? A mix of both probably. Famous writer Daniel Coyle writes in "The Talent Code", that a mix of talent, motivation and coaching is the way to go. If I remember correctly, he says that anyone with a certain basis of skills can be a champion, given the amount of one or more of the prevois mentioned factors. 

Speaking of details, Hushovd finished his Christmas vacation in Grimstad earlier this week and flew to the Caribbean with his family. Did he bring his bike? No, but rumours says he brought his Bont cycling shoes and his own pedals to use on a spinning bike. Guess what, I'm pretty sure he partly chose the hotel with just that in mind.    

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