If you are like me, then you grew up – and have surrounded yourself since – with motivational quotes like “never give up” and “winner’s never quit”.
I, like you, adopted the mantras of the successful and built up solid walls of confidence by telling myself that I was a winner because I never ever, ever quit.
But is this wrong?
To quote Seth Godin:
“Winners quit all the time. They just know when to quit the right things”.
When I read this, I was blown away because it makes complete sense. Champions quit all the time, of course they do! You cannot reach your goal by simply ‘slogging’ through very hurdle, set-back and roadblock. If you did, you would take forever to get there.
Some things you just have to push through, and others are a waste of your precious time.
You have to be prepared to take side-steps, constantly re-evaluate your situations and, adapt.
So how do you quit the right things: the things that will set you back? How do you know when to stick with something?
Well firstly, you need to know that what you are doing is taking you to where you want to go.
To bring this back to triathlon relevance: Are the sessions that you are doing each day, really leading you to that 9-hour race? Or are they holding you back, inhibiting your performance potential. If a sub-10 day is your burning desire then you need to make sure that everything you do takes you on that path.
It’s a mindset.
Every training session should be focused on that goal. Everything you eat must be dedicated to that goal. Every early night sleep, every recovery session….essentially everything that you can possibly do, must be in the direction of that goal.
If this is not your mindset, then you are going to hit some significant roadblocks, and start to question yourself and the process.
This is when people start to think about quitting.
And this is totally OK.
Because if the direction you are taking – let’s say you ignore an early night sleep, you make nutritional ‘exceptions’ or change sessions – is based on whim or unsolicited advice, then you need to QUIT. Not soon, but RIGHT NOW.
If what you are doing is not inline with your goal…..why exactly are you doing it?
Continuing that direction WILL NOT GET YOU TO YOUR GOAL.
Quitting that direction, and adopting a new one, will.
So when is it not OK to quit?
When things are working. That’s when.
So many times – typically just before a big race – we see athletes start to make crazy, ill-informed decisions that are almost the COMPLETE opposite of what they had previously been doing.
The best example of this is Carbo-loading. Why start eating food that you never eat, just because you are told that it will “fuel” your muscles?? How on earth did you manage all of those hard training sessions without all that “carbage” Hmmm?
It’s not OK to quit the direction you are taking when that direction is actually taking you the right way.
Someone told me once that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting the same result.
True. But insanity can also be defined as: changing something that works, just for the sake of change.
Too many coaches and athletes try and re-invent the wheel, instead of optimising the performance of the wheel they have now.
An example of this is athletes constantly jumping from different training stimulus each week (if you are the Magic 8-Ball athlete you know exactly what I mean). Consistency of specific stimulus builds strength, endurance and eventually aerobic capacity. This means doing the right thing, time and time again.
Switching sessions up every week to add a ‘fun’ factor to your training simply kills this dead.
So if you are doing this, then it’s time to QUIT what you are doing, and re-align with your path.
Hey, we are all ego-centric beings (some more than others). And that ego when nurtured correctly can be extremely beneficial to us. But when that ego overrides intuitive reasoning, then we start to ignore the signs of when to quit and end up following the wrong path, instead of the right one.
So don’t let your ego drive you away from quitting the right things.
If you are pushing too hard, rolling the dice on nutrition, or ignoring recovery, then you are failing to recognise when and what to quit. That’s your ego taking over.
Same goes for when everything is working and the process is evolving. Your ego will tell you to change, or quit what you are doing. Don’t listen!
Knowing when and what to quit requires intuition. It requires you to provide constant critical assessment of your environments and how you are adapting with them. And you have to remain focused of exactly what it is that you want.
It’s OK to quit the things that are preventing you from being awesome. Quitting the things that are holding you back is absolutely OK, and essential to you being a successful athlete.
Coach Pete Lever