I heard a commentator say this recently whilst watching the highlights of a stage of the current Giro d Italia.
It really hit home today on my training ride. I was to do 5 x 8 minute intervals at zone 4, the last minute full gas. The first time I rode out the heavens opened (yes it does occasionally rain in Girona but only in May, I promise). Sodden head between my tail, I rolled home and got back to Eat Sleep Cycle work. Then the sun emerged and I had a 2 hour window before my shift in the HQ. I rode out West from Girona into a head wind. I really did not feel like doing an interval. We have been very busy at work and whilst a nice loop helps me to forget about the stresses and strains of work, intervals can often make me think about it even more. But I remembered the rainbow, funny since it had just stopped raining, slapped myself with a virtual wet fish and cracked on. Of course it hurt, intervals always do, but I got some satisfaction from finishing the workout.
It’s not just my training that hasn’t been going so well. I have punctured in my last 2 races and even after getting a wheel the second time, it was impossible to get back into the mix. It just felt like bad luck. All that hard work and training to be out in the first half an hour. Poor me, quick get the wet fish out again. This is my point.
When we watch a professional cycle race we celebrate the winner. Behind him there are 150-200 other riders who have tried their damn hardest not just on the day but every day leading up to it through the year. We can’t possibly expect from ourselves the impossible. The one that won has lost many more times, likely overcome barriers that far outweigh punctures, injuries, financial issues, time constraints. It doesn’t come easy to anyone.
Mike Hall, the long distance cyclist who tragically passed away recently, once said to me “succeeding is about what you do on the bad days”. He was referring to his winning of the around the world record by continuing to ride through sickness, tiredness and any other barriers his body could throw at him. On a good day we can all be our best, possibly win. But a lot of our training and racing is done when we are tired, stressed, not in the mood. It’s on those days that the difference is made with our counterparts.
The older I get the more I realise that life is like this. Nothing is free and if we want the best from life we have to work hard to achieve it. In work, in our relationships, in our sport, in our support of other people and our friendships.
When the going gets tough will you give up and put the bike down or slap yourself with a wet fish and carry on?