The Importance of Preparation
Today it was cold, wet, and rainy here in Raleigh, NC. I’m not sure what happened to the 70 degree weather we had this past weekend but it is November, so I understand.
On my way home from work, I actually started getting pretty excited about running in the cold rain for some reason. Then I remembered a story I read about Michael Phelps, and I was reminded why I welcomed the crappy weather. Training in crappy situations gets you ready for whatever may come race day.
For instance, during that race, Phelps knew that something was wrong as soon as he hit the water. There was moisture inside his goggles. He couldn’t tell if they were leaking from the top or bottom, but as he broke the water’s surface and began swimming, he hoped the leak wouldn’t become too bad.
By the second turn, however, everything was getting blurry. As he approached the third turn and final lap, the cups of his goggles were completely filled. Phelps couldn’t see anything. Not the line along the pool’s bottom, not the black T marking the approaching wall. He couldn’t see how many strokes were left.
For most swimmers, losing your sight in the middle of an Olympic final would be cause for panic.
Phelps was calm.
Everything else that day had gone according to plan. The leaking goggles were a minor deviation, but one for which he was prepared. Bowman had once made Phelps swim in a Michigan pool in the dark, believing that he needed to be ready for any surprise. Some of the videotapes in Phelps’s mind had featured problems like this. He had mentally rehearsed how he would respond to a goggle failure. Most important, Phelps’s keystone habits had established a certainty within his mind: he could succeed, no matter the obstacles. After all, he had always succeeded before. His self-image, all of his habits, were built around the certainty of overcoming any problem.
Preparation. Rehearsing the problems. Visualizing. During training, as well as racing, there are things you can control and there are things that you can not. As we have been reminded very recently, Mother Nature is one of those things beyond our control. Training through the problems and difficulties has its advantages – it prepares you for whatever may happen when it really matters the most. I just hope it doesn’t start snowing anytime soon. I’m not sure I have the right running shoes for that weather.
Happy Trails and Happy Running,
And here are my run stats from today.