Hating To Lose


It’s been a week since I’ve last posted and it is time  for another post.  I’ll try to update the blog a couple of times a week now that I am more settled in Boulder.

The inspiration for this blog post came from a dog named Truman that I am pet-setting for.  There is a nice backyard and this dog loves to “play” frisbee.  However, this dog absolutely refuses to lose.  I cannot get the frisbees back from him.  He will literally have four in his mouth at one time (see picture below).  I love the tenacity that this dog has.  There is an evergreen tree in the yard and he’ll literally circle around it.  Of course, Truman is too agile and quick so I would never be able to get that frisbee from him.  (Chris McDougall would disagree though.  In his book “Born to Run” that I blogged about a couple weeks ago, he makes the argument that humans were born to be ultramarathoners and to kill their pray by chasing after them in a pack for hours or days until the pray got too tired and collapsed…and I do not have all day to tire him out.)  Anyway, the point is that Truman will not let me win and he must come out victorious every time – which is a great characteristic in an athlete.

I started thinking about Truman on an easy recovery run to close out an 18 mile day yesterday.  It reminded me of a flotrack video with University of Minnesota coach Gary Wilson about “The Mental Edge.”  He describes athletes who simply hate losing.  He loves recruiting and coaching athletes that hate losing, even when they run great and set big personal best times, they still are fired up that someone beat them.  This video is definitely worth the eleven minutes!

I am also reading Vern Gambetta‘s book, “Athletic Development.”  First, every coach out there should read the first 40 pages of this book.  It is some of the best coaching advice I have ever read.  Relating back to the point of this blog, he writes, “The actual workout and management of training is where the rubber meets the road.  This is where the goal is simple and straightforward: to “win the workout.” You must do this consistently before you can win a competition.  An accumulation of workout wins leads to success in the competitive arena.”   I happened to read this after a challenging 12.5 mile progression run.  Brent Vaughn and I were rolling pretty good by mile 10 and I was working pretty hard.  My mind shifted focus to one goal: not letting him go.  I’m proud to say that we finished at the cross-walk 2.5 miles later side-by-side.  That, was a win for me.  Don’t take the advice as you literally need to beat whoever else is near you or the workout is a failure – that would not add value to a team and only create negative energy.  If you have been apart of a college cross country team you probably know the kid who “half-steps or two-steps” and he or she has probably created you more headaches than high-fives.  The take-away message is to always be a competitor, hate to lose, and “win every workout” whether that means beating the clock or helping push a teammate faster.

Hope everyone’s training is going great…prepare to be a competitor in your next race!



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