Friday, January 13, 2012

Dotting Your I's and Crossing Your T's.

Google tells me there are 49 ways to dot your I’s and cross your T’s. I’m pretty sure it’s lying, but for the sake of this argument – I’ll let it slide. For those who are unaware of this saying, ‘to dot your I’s and cross your T’s’ means to take care of every detail, even minor ones or to be meticulous and thorough in your actions. So why the English lesson? Well the difference between being a good athlete and champion athlete often lays in one’s dedication to dotting your I’s and crossing your T’s in all aspects of training, recovery and nutrition. To reach the top level in any sport, it is not sufficient to simply undertake the prescribed training; equal emphasis needs to be placed on those extra ‘1%ers’, because at the top level in sport 1% can make all the difference.

I have just gotten back from the biggest 2 weeks on my Australian cycling calendar, competing in the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic and the Australian National Championships with the Dream Team. I feel as though I have been hit by a truck, reversed over several times and am now parked on by said truck and I’m 99% sure it’s just my bodies way of paying me back for not addressing the 1%ers as meticulously as I should’ve.


Thoughts gathered and brain refreshed after a week hiding away in Ballarat, I met up with the Dream Team girls on New Year’s Eve in Geelong and welcomed the New Year with the first round of the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic. Despite not being a renowned criterium rider, I had come off a big block of training, was feeling strong and confident that I could help my team achieve a result in the series.

Day 1 at Ritchie Boulevard went better than I could’ve imagined – I was up the front for the first half of the race trying to do my bit for the team before retreating to the tail end of the bunch but still managing to finish with teammate Rochelle Gilmore rounding out the podium in 3rd place! I have only ever finished 1 round of the Bay Crits in the past 4 years I have done them, and the longest I had ever lasted on this course was 10min/45min – so on Day 1 I was already ahead.

It hurt, but I did it.

Day 2 in the Eastern Gardens was held in what could only be described as inhumain conditions, 42 degrees before you even got on the road. Unfortunately for us, the team didn’t have a great race but considering the conditions we were happy with our performance – we finished and still had all our skin. Day 3 in Portarlington I woke up with a queezy stomach (I’m blaming funsized chocolates which I shouldn’t have been eating in the first place, there’s nothing fun about them.) and so after ending up in the red zone by going with an early attack on lap 1, on lap 2 I went straight to the bathroom. 4th and final day in Williamstown our team was hoping for a bunch sprint and Rochelle finished it off with 3rd in the bunch kick for 4th overall. As for me? I had nothing. Riding my bike I was the equivalent of a dead horse, being beaten aimlessly to run.

After the final race, needless to say I wasn’t feeling confident leading into the National Criterium Championships in Ballarat the day after but fronted the start line with fingers crossed that the rest of the girls coming off Bay Crits would be feeling equally as fantastic as I was – they weren’t and mid-way through the race I called it quits. That left less than 48hrs to somehow master reset my body in some vague attempt to recapture what was my form leading into Bay Crits 1 week ago.

Last ditched effort to find my legs before the road race

D Day and I thought I was feeling good but turns my body was lying to me – how rude. The thing about that Nationals course is that you find out pretty quickly if you’ve got the legs or not…. And yeah, I didn’t. Lap 1 and I was blown out the back. Luckily there were a few other girls in the same boat and we lapped around drifting little by little from the back of the peloton before being pulled from the course at 3 laps to go. That was it, as quickly as it came around, Nationals was over. So here’s my question – WTF HAPPENED?!?!

It is so easy to get caught up in the atmosphere on tour that it is easy to get distracted and forget about the little things, especially for someone like me who has the attention span of a goldfish…what was I talking about again? Over the past 2 weeks I was going to bed at close to 11:00pm most nights, walking around when I should’ve had my feet up, not paying particular attention to my diet – and ultimately, I paid my price. Sure, these things may work for some people but not me. I was on a steep downward slope and as each day went by, I was feeling worse and worse on the bike. I was strong and knew I was good enough to be able to help out the team but when it came down to the pointy end of the race, when the best get sorted from the rest, I just didn’t have it. That’s the only explanation I have for my embarrassingly poor performances of the past 2 weeks.

It was evident who had put in the hard yards leading into the past events and they were ultimately rewarded for their sacrifices. In the end, it was those 1%ers that made all the difference. Back home now I have resorted back to my strict ways, I have my routines and sure they are time consuming and painstaking at times but they are all necessary for me to become the best I can be at my job. There are many different tips and tricks athletes use to gain that extra 1% advantage over their competition, as there are ways to dot I’s and cross T’s, and it doesn’t matter how you do it – you just have to make sure you do it.

I’m confident that it won’t take too long to unlock the form that showed its head a fortnight ago and now have only a few more weeks left working at my part time jobs and enough time to fit in a solid training block before hopefully competing in the NZCT Women’s Tour of New Zealand on the 22nd Feb. In the meantime I will have my glasses on, pen in hand and making sure every I and T is left dotted and crossed.

Until then stay safe and happy pedalling

M xx

P.S - OK, so the helicopter ride with the girls WAS pretty cool.


Anonymous said...

Hi Miff, Look it nices that you want it so bad but its called talent and you just don't have it.
Some people are born talented some people work hard towards being talented but then theres other people that just train and train but will never be good at their chosen sport. It sucks but its true. It has nothing to do with dotting your I's and crossing your T's. Look over your post there is always excuses or some reason why you didn't ride well. The truth hurts but it had to be said.

MiffyGee said...

Cheers Anonymous, appreciate your words of encouragement. I'll agree - I am definitely not naturally talent however pure talent alone is not sufficient to be successful, you also need to have the drive to succeed at whatever you are doing. I hate excuses more than the next person. And I like to think i'm realistic, i'm only 21. I am still trying to find out what works for me and what doesn't. If feel that I have given my cycling everything I possibly can and am not progressing then i'm not going to keep bashing my head against the brick wall - i'll take the hint, but I don't; and until then I will continue to pursue it with or without your support :)

Anonymous said...

Hey Miff, my legs lied to me too before the road race ... No that I expected a tremendous result but out in lap 1 was definitely a bit steep!
Looking at what you've done wrong is the only way to learn. It is very hard to admit your mistakes - nothing about making excuses- and I'm 100% with you.
Go girl and show them what a lot of hard work and a little bit of talent can do !

Anonymous said...

Ps - I think the last sentence doesn't quite sound how I intended, didn't mean to say that you only have 'a little bit of talent' but rather that any amount of talent needs the hard work. :)

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Alice Miller said...

Dear Anonymous.
Talent doesn't exist. Talent (or the lack thereof) is the excuse used by people who don't put the effort in. 'oh im just not talented, thats why i didnt win'
The truth is, if you work hard enough (really, really hard) and give your all towards achieving your aim, you will succeed.
Have a read of Bounce - Matthew Syed for an example of a champion (and several others) who do not believe in talent.
Nurture, not nature.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit". - Aristotle