For the record, here’s my favorite “no secrets” quote (from Once a Runner, of course):
And too there were questions: What did he eat? Did he believe in isometrics? Isotonics? Ice and heat? How about aerobics, est, ESP, STP? What did he have to say about yoga, yogurt, Yogi Berra? What was his pulse rate, his blood pressure, his time for 100-yard dash? What was the secret, they wanted to know; in a thousand different ways they wanted to know The Secret. And not one of them was prepared, truly prepared to believe that it had not so much to do with chemicals and zippy mental tricks as with that most unprofound and sometimes heart-rending process of removing, molecule by molecule, the very tough rubber that comprised the bottoms of his training shoes. The Trial of Miles, Miles of Trials. How could they be expected to understand that?
And here’s my least favorite (and proof that some guys do have secrets, but they are always found out in the end):
I posted these videos to my Facebook a couple of years ago after I first saw it at Flagstaff’s Orpheum Theatre as part of the Real Rock Tour. Since then, I have kind of rediscovered the man, the myth, the legend Ueli Steck a number of times, including tonight while perusing Youtube with Eric Lagerstrom.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with the Swiss Machine, check out these two videos. After watching these, you will be convinced that “more and more train” is the solution to all your problems.
That’s not the limit. I am just faster than the others, but that’s exactly not the point. I can do it much better.
Note the badass musical choice in this second film. Loyal RunPD followers will recognize it from here.
In my mind, Alistair Brownlee is the greatest triathlete competing today. His record at the highest level of the sport, ITU’s World Triathlon Series, is staggering: 12 wins out of 15 that he’s competed at. No other men have more than 3 wins. He was World Junior, U23, and Senior Champion, a feat that no one else has accomplished before. And then there is that Olympic Gold. He is certainly one of the most dominant athletes of any sport.
Gatorade UK followed Alistair and his brother Jonathan (Bronze medalist) as they prepared for the London Olympics. This video isn’t one of those training day videos like we’ve seen Specialized do with other triathletes (which are great too), but more of a series of interviews from different perspectives stating why they are the best in the world.??In this documentary, I think it shows it is a combination of three things.
They have the genetics. No one becomes the best at anything without having a certain level of talent. Alistair has said in the past that he thinks he’s actually pretty slow and doesn’t naturally possess that fast twitch that some of his competitors do, making him sound like just another clumsy endurance athlete. His “talent” lies in his capacity to train. Much like Galen Rupp’s “key to success lies in his ability to recover (via Steve Magness),” the Brownlee Boys are so good because they can handle more training.
I marvel at the capacity that they have for training and the focus that they’ve got on training… They do have to push themselves beyond what a normal person would push themselves through. But they actually quite enjoy doing that — that’s what they do.
That quote touches on the next point. They have a passion for their sport. The physical capacity to train means nothing if you can’t motivate yourself to push hard everyday. They like to swim, bike, run; they like to compete; they love to win, and that’s what they’ve spent their lives doing.
??When Alistair got injured, it wasn’t about “Oh I’m not going to be able to race in this race; I’m not going to be able to do that and I’m not going to be able to do that.” It was just purely a, “Oh, I just can’t go out and run.” And that’s what he loves doing, that’s how he relaxes, that’s how he de-stresses, that’s just what he loves doing.
Obviously obsessiveness can drive you to get up everyday and drive you to do that, but I think it can’t necessarily drive you to push that little bit further when you need to sometimes, and I think that’s when enjoyment and love for the sport take you that little bit further.
Finally, they have each other. They have the ultimate daily training environment in the world (in Northern England of all places…). To be the best, you have to surround yourself with the best.
I have had the advantage to train with the world’s best triathlete. I can see exactly what he did, exactly what he did the year before to become world champion, and exactly what he’s doing now. It’s a massive advantage because you’re learning from the best, you’re learning from the top of the sport, and you think, “you know, you’ve got to be right.”
As I move forward with my own triathlon career, I will aim to maximize those three things in an effort to see my full potential. Whether that is winning a sprint finish with one of the Brownlee brothers or simply standing on a podium at a Continental Cup race, only time will tell.
June 2015: This video used to be posted on Youtube. The video has since been removed. Here is a link to the video on Universal Sports.
Want more Brownlees?
The Brownlees co-authored a book called Swim, Bike, Run: Our Triathlon Story. In the book, Alistair and Jonathan recount their upbringing and how they got involved with triathlons. They also share some of their secrets that make them two of the best triathletes in the history of the sport. Buy it now on Amazon.
In the plethora of NBC Olympic coverage we have recorded on the DVR, I came across this gem. It is an interview with Mary Carillo and Sir Steven Redgrave. Redgrave is considered to be one of the greatest British athletes of all time, and should be included in conversations of greatest Olympians of all time, with five gold medals in five consecutive Olympics (1984-2000). He is not a swimmer, cyclist, nor runner, but a rower. Still, Olympic Champions across all sports have a lot in common, and his words really resonate with me as I look ahead to “the next challenge.”
Every now and again you sort of look back and think, “God, how did I achieve what I achieved of winning the Olympics five times over without missing one?” But at the time it was all about the next challenge. “Are you going to give up or carry on? Do I go and get a real job or do you still want to play on the river?”
When we see someone like Michael Phelps, who’s done so much for so long, much like yourself, what is the nature of that sacrifice? How do you do something like that?
I think if you treat it as a sacrifice you could only do it for a short period of time; so it has to become a love, it has to become a passion. When people talk to me about my Olympic gold medals they want to talk about that moment; that moment of crossing the line; that moment of standing on the podium; that moment of your achievement. But actually what I look back on is the Olympiad — the four years of time between each games; is the preparation; is the hardships. That’s a hell of a lot of commitment to put in to say, “Yeah, it’s just that moment that you have that medal put around your neck,” or, “That moment as your bows go through the finishing line.”
I have found my passion, all I have to do is to get out and play on the river every day.
Amazing racing all across the country this weekend. 13:07.15 USR; 13:08.28 CR; 13:57.04 HSR; 3:54.54 CR; 7:43.08 ACR; 8:09.72 AR… the list goes on. Writingaboutrun.com had a nice recap of the weekend’s events, with a “Top 10 Moments in Distance Running this weekend.” Coming in at #6 was
I’ve written about Diego’s attitude toward racing before, and after listening to his latest interview, it is clear to me that I still have a lot to learn from him. He really isn’t afraid to go to that dark, uncomfortable cave and go to work. In fact, he seems to flourish in that environment.
He’s yet to win a national title. Since November’s NCAA Cross Championships, where he was picked as one of the favorites to win, he says he’s “lossed a little bit of sleep.” “It shouldn’t consume me but it does.” Even after breaking the “American” Collegiate Record: “I feel like I need a little bit of redemption.”
Diego wants to be a winner. It “consumes” him. Whether it is in a few weeks at NCAA Indoor Champs, this outdoor season, or in the years ahead, I have no doubts that Diego will be a winner.
Less than three weeks until my 2012 season-opener — time to get consumed.
Yesterday was the winter solstice. Growing up in the southwest my whole life I didn’t have much of an appreciation for the winter and summer solstices until I was in high school or so. Around that time I learned from my Farfar that in northern countries like Denmark, the amount of daylight each day, and whether it was increasing or decreasing, is a hot topic. Each summer and winter solstice he would say to my dad (in Danish of course), “Now we go the other way.”
My Farfar passed away on November 23rd. We had a wonderful memorial for him on Saturday. It was quite emotional as you may imagine, but it was nice to share many great stories of him with family and friends.
Now as we look the “other way” towards the summer solstice, things look bleak despite the promise of long, warm summer days. My Farfar won’t be around to share his wisdom and cheer me on from the sidelines of my next triathlon. Still, I will continue to persistently pursue my dreams, knowing that these sad days will pass, and the sun will shine again.