It’s up to you

September 3, 2013

I did some fitness testing last week with a professional cycling coach.  This guy’s been there and done it in pro cycling.  Fifteen years as a pro rider and a further fifteen years in team management – only recently stepping away from Team Sky – who now works with a combination of pro’s, young up-and-coming riders and lumps like me, all of whom want to improve on the bike.

Being that I thought I could get some insider info I was keen to talk about the behind the scenes stuff.  You know… What’s Sir Brad like?  Is Dave Brailsford as calm as he appears?  What’s the training regime like?  How strict is the nutrition set up?  … How do my test scores compare to a pro?  (I wish I hadn’t gotten an answer to my final question…)

Anyway, something that he said really struck a cord.  It was about nutrition.  I was expecting to hear that it was an impressively tight ship, one where every macronutrient was counted and the riders were fuelled with laser beam precision, given exactly what they not and not more… not necessarily so.

Me (loosely paraphrased): “What’s the nutritional approach?  Does every rider get a set menu based on the physiology and specific requirements?  What’s the pre race meal?  Etc”

Him (again, I paraphrase): “Sure, there is a chef who makes sure that balanced meals are served, but the guys are pro’s, most of them have been doing it for donkey’s years, and they know what works for them and what doesn’t.  At the end of the day, it’s up to the individual rider.  If you choose to eat in a way that you know isn’t optimal for you, performance will suffer and you won’t be offered a contract the next year.  Every rider takes ownership of their own plate.  The right foods are there, it’s up to you to make the right choices.  You want the place on the team, you make the right choices.”

What struck me is how true this is for all of us, regardless of pursuit, ability or goal.  You want the outcome, you need make the right choices.

Good coaches, proven systems, a strong support network, the best information and good equipment are all important, but the buck stops with us as individuals.  It’s no ones responsibility but our own.  If we want something, we need to take the bull by the horns and take ownership, no passing the buck, no excuses, it’s up to us.

You decide that a certain diet or training approach makes sense and you’ve seen others get great results with it for example, seems reasonable to try it out.  BUT, you need to be engaged enough to (with the help of your ‘team’) figure out what version of that particular framework works for YOU.  You’re unlikely to be able to wander in blind, detached from the process and get results by following exactly what the next person did.

This is likely to take some time and degrees of patience and perseverance.  It’s the only way though and you’ll only get better by doing (learning).  It’s our own responsibility and we need to take ownership.