Sunday, November 20, 2005

Who succeeds?

Ever wonder why the best became best? Do top endurance athletes have anything in common? The following is based on research and anecdotal information from several top performers; Most top endurance athletes come from modest backgrounds - they did not get anything handed to them for free. This will foster and encourage the will-power and attitude that is required - hard work and commitment is a must. Many also grew up in rural areas, a very low percentage come from larger metropolitan areas. Growing up in rural areas gives the children and young athletes access to the outdoors and outdoor activities. These activities leads to a high volume of "unplanned / non-organized" training. As I've mentioned again and again, this type of training prepared the young athlete for the high volumes of work that would be required later. Also, it creates a love for outdoor activity and movement. Most endurance sports require both training and competition outdoors. As a young athlete the top performer is active in several sports, not specializing until around 16-17 years of age. Interestingly enough, most are not "wonder-children" and did not appear to be "olympic caliber" before they reached 18-22 years. In fact, the "wonder children" tend to burn out and quit before reaching the level required to be successful as a senior. The jump is enourmous from the Junior class to the Senior level. Athletes that are impatient and that lack the long-term view will not have the dedication to continue with the high volumes of training required. The young athlete that will become a top performer as a senior often shows strong attention to detail, focused training and the ability to set long-term goals. In a sport where you in most cases will not reach the top before you are between 25-32 years of age, it can be tough for a young competitor that is used to high placements as a Junior to continue with all the hard work required as senior when the results are not as "expected" during the first 3-4 years. The backing from home is also important - parents play a vital role. Good attitudes and healthy values are created at home. Too much pressure to perform and reach results usually results in a burned-out ahtlete. Instead, top athletes come from families that encourage physical activity, good attitudes and a long-term view. The ability to find the positive and to turn everything into a motivational factor is an important value. Also, factors such as environment in the local club, the first coach and other infrastructural items affect the outcome of a young athlete. Well, that is it for me. 2 blog-posts in one day is entirely more than I had planned. This blogging thing is addictive. :)


Blogger Fritz said...

Hey Mags,

You asked yourself on CycleDog why you blog. I hope you continue to keep it up -- I'm looking forward to see how you do in 2012!

Blogger mags said...


Thank you very much. I find myself enjoying blogging a great deal, it gives me a chance to put down in writing what I'm thinking about and things I "burn for". Also, now my wife does not have to listen to me rant about all this cycling specific stuff.... :) I'm very fortunate to have someone as supportive as her. When we go on vacations she patiently watches me pack the training gear and does not mind that I'm up early getting in my first session of the day and that I'm asleep before 10:30pm. All while we are on a vacation...

Blogger Lever said...

Interesting point about the age of specialisation... Lance Armstrong was originally a swimmer and then a triathlete, right? He only became a full-on cyclist around 21 I think?

Blogger mags said...

Yes, Mr. Armstrong started out in a different sport. Like many top athletes. Armstrong was a bit of a "anomaly", since he was a "wonder child". He did very well as a young athlete and most top senior athletes did not really stand out as juniors.



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