The Secret to Getting to Worlds
Over the years I’ve had many athletes qualify for World Championships of all distances — Kona, 70.3, Duathlon, Xterra and ITU – from every age group, up to professional. When athletes approach me with the goal to head to the World Championships the most common thing I’ll hear from them are their times and current numbers. After I listen and note their numbers I’ll immediately start to talk to them about their lives. I often get a little look of confusion with this.
I’ll ask them about their opinion on training, their jobs, their families, their social habits. The entire time the athlete might be thinking, “What does my social life have to do with my swim time?”
After many years of taking people of all levels up to World Championship level I can tell you the secret, and it’s not in your current numbers!
Are you coachable? How much are you willing to do and change to reach that goal?
If someone comes to me and says she wants to go to worlds but when we start laying out the sessions she constantly has reasons she cannot or will not do that “thing,” I instantly know she really doesn’t have World Championship level of commitment.
How much are you willing to set your life up to make it there? The bottom line is qualifying for a world championship is going to take a huge commitment from all aspects of your life. Is everyone aware and on board with your goals in your life? If an athlete only has 6 to 10 hours per week to train I will always be honest that unless he is genetically completely gifted or on drugs that won’t be enough.
Any athlete that tells me he want to go to worlds but instantly follows it with, “I have to work 80 hours per week, travel three weeks a month and I’m out at social functions every Saturday,” again, I know he doesn’t have what it takes to make it.
Qualifying for a world championship is a reward for those athletes who have sacrificed and put in a ton of hard work to get there… not for 3 months, not for 6 months, but for a really long time. They take care of the details, they work hard day in and day out, they set their lives up around achieving their goals, they are willing to make changes and do what it takes. They have earned the right to stand on the line with the best in the world through pure guts and commitment.
If you get awestruck by the stars of Kona and other world championship start lines, if you see the fun photos posted all week and get fired up to also want to be on that start line, ask yourself if you are willing to get up in the winter when its dark and cold? Are you willing to do the work? Are you willing to make the changes and commit to the lifestyle towards that goal?
Numbers are good, but numbers can be trained and improved. The courage to earn a spot at a world championships come from a deep fire in your belly that has to shine through everything else.