Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Just Freakin' Rise To The Occasion

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. And some of my athletes are going to call me a complete hypocrite because I just wrote a piece for them on setting appropriate goals and ended that post by saying that you simply have to earn yourself a level of fitness to support your goals. And I still believe that whole heartedly.

But then there's Thomas Voekler.

Not saying he's not fit enough to achieve his goals- just saying that in the past that guy has not shown that he has the physical capability to do what he is doing this month in France. But he's doing it. So what's the deal with that?

And this is a total aside, but I have to say, I do wonder if he is a master player in the psychological game... Every day he says that he doesn't expect to keep the jersey tomorrow but then he goes and fights like hell for it all day... and then keeps it. We all know athletes who do this to some degree (and btw I hate it when athletes do this)... they say, "Oh I can't go as fast as you..." blah blah blah and then you're training/racing together and they totally do go as fast as you and becomes this psychological blow... b/c you're killing yourself going as hard as you can and that sandbagger athlete is still riding right on your wheel or running shoulder to shoulder with you uphill and the obvious implication in your own mind at that point is I am not as fast as I thought if I can't drop this guy/gal who told me he/she couldn't go this fast... So I do wonder if Voekler is getting under the skin of the other contenders when they attack on a climb and can't shake him. It must be a bit of a blow to their confidence when they see that guy hanging on like such a sticky booger. Maybe that's why they only attack for like a second and then sit up? Anyway. That was a complete aside.

Back to Voekler. My thought there is that he actually really does truly believe in himself. He must truly believe that he is as good as those other climbers. So if day after day we hear all the commentators say that he doesn't have the physical capacity to climb with them, but yet, he is climbing with them, then it must all be in his head, right? So maybe there IS such a thing as Race Day Magic? Or in his case, Race Month Magic... where you have a good deal of baseline fitness but then race day comes and you just freakin' rise to the occasion. Previous ceilings you may have put on yourself... break through them! To hell with your heart rate monitor and power meter on race day. Just go race.

Now I may have completely jinxed Voekler here and he might just get dropped like a bad habit tomorrow when they climb those huge Alps... but even if he does, well, he still showed me something this last week about what we can all be physically capable of if we just believe ourselves to be.


Jennifer Harrison said...

SERIOUSLY! Great post and Jerome and I were just talking about this the other day. HOW everyone else seems to write him off but him. HE really has "risen to the occasion" and while he may or may not win - he exemplifies how to not set limits in sport!

mmmonyka said...

I believe that psychology plays a huge part in that race. Lance Armstrong surelly won Tour so many times because he just intimidated his opponents so badly that they were actually scared of attacking because then he would order his team pacers to put the hammer down until "those who dared" begged for mercy. So noone wanted to mess with him.

I do not want to be a pessimist but let's wait for couple weeks before we make any conclusions about Voekler's miraculous strike.

But believing in yourself is THE key to success in my mind.

Matt said...

Great post, I think mental training is equally as important as physical but if you don't believe what do ya have ;)

Alicia Parr said...

Worthy observations. That's what I call "going to the well." I know I can do it once...maybe twice in a year. It's not just racing hard, it's really, really digging deep. It takes not only solid fitness but fierce psychological focus and probably a little bit of pissed offedness at those inevitable doubting voices that chime in when the pain hits. You tell yourself that dammit, I'm not leaving here with ANY regrets so shut the hell up stupid voices. In my estimation, it makes sense to prepare myself to do that for your big event of the year. That means I don't dare dip in the well except when it matters. Gotta save up that level of fight.

Pamela said...

In the commentary over here one of the commentators said that he had said he could stay with them this year because the stringent drug testing had leveled the playing field and now they were all on an equal footing. Before he could not keep up because the others had been taking drugs???? Not sure if he did say this or how true it is.

He did very well.

Regina said...

Love the sticky booger metaphor. I have nomidea whT his game is or if he has one. I know that sometimes when I think like that, it takes the pressure off for me along with anyone's expectations of my performance. This way, if I do better than what I thought I could do, I can be pleasantly surprised.

Just a thought.