So I got into work around 8.50am and I’m eating my hazelnut & almond clusters (with unsweetened almond milk, can’t forget that ;)) as I would do every morning. As I’m doing my leisurely pursuit of the internet, I come across this video on the Guardian website entitled ‘How to run 100m like an Olympian’. Now as you all know, I’m a Personal Development nerd, a Motivational Speaker and the person who is always looking for a piece of ‘wisdom’ from daily events, but on this occasion I can genuinely say I wasn’t looking for any piece of inspiration or message. When I saw the title of the video what came to mind was a moment a few years ago when my friend challenged me to a race, I was super confident I could beat him and then in front of family and friends he whooped my arse! So essentially I was looking for some tips on how to improve my running speed haha.
But as the Gods would have it, not only did I pick up a couple of good quotes that can be used as analogies for life, but after watching the whole thing I soon realised that a 100m race can be used to describe and explain some phases we go through in life. So I’ve decided to share this with you…
In the video, a Scientist and a Coach are essentially deconstructing what it takes to win a 100m race, using Team GB’s Ashleigh Nelson as an example. Ashleigh starts off by saying,
“when you’re in an Olympic game final with 7 other girls who can run just as fast as you, anything can happen”
Why is this quote important? Because it’s easy to win when you know you’re the fastest person in the race right? But in life, when you’re in a position with other people to battle or compete against and they are just as fast, just as strong or just as smart as you, it’s a whole different ball game.
Whilst explaining the science behind a 100m sprint, the Scientist goes on to say that at the beginning of the race, the sprinter
“can increase their velocity only when they are in contact with the ground”.
Are you seeing where this is going? Haha. So let’s match this up with our lives. When we set our big lofty goals, sometimes we spend way too much time doing all the prep. For those who are starting a business, that might mean writing the business plan, going out networking, and putting systems and policies into place. If you’re studying for an exam, that might be doing some wider reading, or making sure that your notes are up to date. And for someone prepping for a big presentation, that might be making sure the PowerPoint looks pretty.
But as the scientist said, ultimately you can only increase your velocity when your foot is on the ground, meaning you can only move forward when you’re taking action. You can only get your business going by selling the product or delivering the service; you can only become a better speaker by doing more speaking; a better presenter by doing more presenting and a better seller by doing more selling! The athlete’s foot pushing against the ground is the equivalent to you taking action on your goals; doing the ‘thing’. Like I said, that might be practicing for your presentation in front of an audience so that you can get better, or going out for a run and doing some exercise. Whatever it is for you, ‘do the thing, have the power’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson. That’s how it works, go out there and make things happen so you can move forward. Don’t sit there doing all the pretty things around your goals, do the stuff that matters cause ultimately that is what will make you successful.
The Coach then goes on to explain that in the first phase of the race,
“provided the arms are moving very quick, she should be able to come up, similar to a plane, and what that is doing is building momentum in the accelerator phase to hopefully get her to top end speed.”
… Where do I even start! So my previous point was that in order for you to move forward your legs have to touch the ground, and now the Coach is saying that to get to top speed your arms need to move as quick as possible. In other words, in order to perform at your best, you will need your different body parts to work as a team. Meaning, in order to grow and maximise your potential, you will need to put work in on every area of your life. Don’t just put all of your attention into improving your job; you’ve got to work on your relationships, friends, family, your partner etc. Then you’ve got to work on yourself. Are you looking after your health?, Getting enough sleep?, Exercising?, Telling yourself ‘I love you’? Then there’s your soul- Are you Meditating?, Praying?, Going for walks and practicing mindfulness? You see, getting to top speed for an Athelete is the equivalent to you being happy & fulfilled in life, and similar to the way your arms and legs need to work to get you to optimum performance, so do your mind, body and soul in order for to feel happy and fulfilled.
Back to the Scientist…
“There’s a deceleration phase at the end of the race, where it looks like the better athletes accelerate the most, when actually the better athletes just decelerate the least.”
Let me paint this picture for you, so you now know what success tastes like. Your business is booming or you’re making advancements within your career, getting promotions, hitting your targets etc. Feels good right? But how are you going to stay there? There are so many stories of people who are wonderfully talented and made it to the top of their profession, but never quite managed to stay there. Or businesses who started really well, but never managed to find the consistency to stay at the top. Similarly, there are so many Sprinters that start off the race so well, but never seem to hold on for long enough. Notice the Scientist said that the top Athletes ‘decelerate the least’. At this point, it’s actually more about your ability to stay clear of mistakes than it is about your ability to come up with new ideas.
My Uncle and I were talking about how Zlatan Ibrahimović is such a good Footballer at the age of 35, when he should actually be on the decline. If you watch him play, you’ll notice that he’s developed the ability to conserve energy by picking and choosing the right times to run after the ball, knowing which tackles to stay away from so as to prevent injuries, and choosing the right times to take a shot; not taking too many, but making sure he takes the right ones. This is equivalent to you at the top of your game, or you and your successful business. The hard part was getting to the top, but now you’re there it’s about staying away from the temptations that success brings. Can you make sure you and your team don’t lose motivation? Can you stop yourself from spending money recklessly? Will your business continue to stick to its principles?
The video moves on to a scene of Ashleigh training, jumping over hurdles and repeatedly practicing her gun start:
“And when it has been repeated enough times, it starts to move to the back of the brain and becomes automated.”
What habits are you building? Because whatever they are, they will eventually become automated and you will do them without thinking about it. So if that habit is waking up late, not sticking to your budget or not reading, that my friend is working it’s way to the back of your brain where it will imprint itself to be done automatically. Equally, if your habits are good habits, waking up early, exercising and reading, then that will become something that you will do automatically and it will become easy for you.
Finally, the Team GB Athlete goes on to say,
“100m at the Olympic stadium is 100m at Lee Valley and is 100m wherever, you just have to think like that. I always go back to process because that shouldn’t change.”
Carl Konadu once said, ‘the world is my stage and every day is a new show’, (yes I just quoted myself). No but seriously, I can’t emphasize this enough, every time you practice, whether that’s a mock exam, a dry run presentation or rehearsals for the bloody Opera, make that performance your best! Because firstly, you never know when or where you’re going to get that big chance, and secondly, if you always practice like it’s the real thing, the real thing will feel just like practice (another quote from me but I’ll spare you the inverted commas).
It’s nice to be able to think of your life in different ways; some people call it a sprint, some people call it a marathon, and some even say that life itself is just an illusion. Whatever you think it is, just know that it happens in phases, and each phase you’re being challenged in different ways and you will be required to call on your varying range of skills and qualities. I hope this post has painted that picture for you and you are able to use some of these analogies to inspire you in your life.
You can see the video here
“sport is a tool that teaches you bad things, and it can also teach you good things, it’s how you perceive those things that matters” – Michael Jordan
Thank you, please comment, like and share with anyone you’d like to inspire