As I write this, I’m sat in the Portuguese sun looking back on what’s already been a very punchy start to 2019. With big personal goals for the year, I’ve really started as I mean to go on.
But what does success look like? What’s the real recipe? Though I’ve not quite tasted it myself yet, I’m often surrounded by some of the worlds best. A fantastic opportunity to see what they invest, and just what it takes.
And I’ve decided no matter what your goal, in or out of sport, the recipe is in fact this:
Do you miles, eat your greens, and don’t let girls be mean to you.
And I say not just in sport – because that’s the recipe for life. You’re welcome.
But before you shut it down and think the training has fried my brain, hear me out…
On paper the last week has been my biggest ever training week in terms of stress score on the body. I’ve done all the training solo and unsupported – and I’ve learned a lot about myself. Since the start of the year, I’ve been flat out. 1,179km on the bike in the last 19 days, 16,000m climbed. Already nearly twice Everest. 226km running, a whole Ironman, on foot. And 25.8km in the pool.
This has reminded me anyone can work hard, if they set their mind to it. But working smart is better.
You can work flat out for a week, or two, or three. But when you can’t work at all on the fourth and fifth week, you fall back. And it’ll stress you out. You won’t be moving forward any more, instead you’ll be overtaken by those that pace themselves. Those that just tick over, consistently day in day out.
They’re the real winners.
I could have completed this quicker, harder – gone further. But I’d be burned out. I’d be injured and flat. I’d miss a weeks training if not more and we’re back to square 1.5.
Success is a combination of consistency with a bit of luck.
So the consistency metaphor is obvious – do your miles. Just tick over. Stick at it! Some days it sucks, and all you want to do is lie in bed and not move. Trust me, I’m not a robot, I feel all the same things you do. And it’s hard, it’s really hard, but you have to get it done.
But what allows you to do your miles? What let’s you work hard? What let’s you accomplish what you set out to do?
Eating your greens.
These are the things that happen behind the scenes. The little things you can’t always see. Waking up early – and going to bed early. Long days don’t benefit anyone. Not enough hours in the day? You’re not managing your time well enough. This is an argument I see all the time. I know people working three jobs and training 20-25 hours a week, racing at an international level. And you’re telling me you can’t read a book for 15 minutes a day? Behave.
Eat your greens. Look after yourself. Let yourself recover. Stretch, do yoga, find some sort of relaxation whatever that may be. Give yourself the down time you need. The time away, time off.
Drink with friends, enjoy a nice meal. Go for a walk, catch up with people you haven’t seen in a while. Make time, make effort, get away. You can’t work at 100% all of the time, success is a balance.
But balance is the key word. You can’t have treats all the time; you have to make sacrifices. The candle can’t be burned at both ends. What did your parents tell you? You can’t have dessert if you don’t eat your greens.
And don’t let girls be mean to you.
And by girls, I mean anyone, anyone in the world. Who cares? This is something we see all the time, unfortunately despite all the amazing connections social media brings; it also brings a world of negativity. Real life has just as much of it. It might be a little comment that someone didn’t mean, it might be flat out spite – but honestly – why do you let yourself worry? Will Doris that things I eat too much cake to be an athlete stop me achieving what I want to this year? Do the people that thing I’ll never be able to swim fast enough have an impact on my life? Does the people that think they’ll always be quicker than me stop me trying? No. And I know some days it’s hard to ignore, and some days you believe it. You let it in.
But think about the bigger picture. Remind yourself where you’re going and what you want to be. Anything is possible; don’t let someone else’s narrow vision cloud yours.
And some times – even the people close to you need a bit of a nudge in the right direction. But they’ll support you, and they’ll come on board. A 2016 version of myself had to fight tooth and nail to convince my parents to let me leave architecture and pursue sport. It’d be a very different conversation today!
You can be successful. Anyone can:
Do you miles, eat your greens and don’t let girls be mean to you.