Learning from the Best…Sort of

We’ve just concluded that time every two years when we marvel at the athletic achievements of a few wildly talented and grittily dedicated world-class athletes. The article I’d planned to write is what we mere mortals can learn from the Olympians to enhance our own training. So I started searching “lessons from Olympic athletes” and “Olympic athlete training,” and located various articles about the importance of sleep, formulating a plan to reach your goals, working with a team, and so forth.

And I realized, obviously, that I’m nowhere close to being an Olympian. Let’s compare: For the most part, they are twenty-somethings (read here for an interesting article about the demographics of Olympians) whose main focus is to be athletes. In the current cycle, there is only one mom in the bunch. In contrast, I am more than a decade older than the average Olympian’s age. I’m a mom with a full-time job that has nothing to do with my (very limited) athletic prowess.

I think that is part of the allure of this event. Here are people doing inexplicable, seemingly superhuman things (what the heck is a McTwist, anyway?), and we love learning their stories and watching them succeed. Rather than trying to be them, the rest of us can celebrate our own victories in everyday life along with celebrating the Olympians.

One of the commonalities of elite athletes is that they are always striving for the next level. Good enough is never good enough. For me, on the other hand, there are times when I just have to do what I can, and call that my best for that day (or week, month, or even year). I push a little, but (fortunately for my family), my livelihood doesn’t depend on me always kicking it to the next level athletically.

On the other hand, one thing I can improve upon is sleep. I like to cross things off my to-do list, and my inclination is to keep going until I’m done, even if it is past bedtime. I keep irregular hours, one morning getting up for a run before five, the next morning “sleeping in” until seven. Maybe I can’t quit my job and move to a training facility. But I can set an alarm for a half hour before bedtime and commit to shutting down.

So what is the main lesson I’ve learned this time around is that I’m not them, and it’s okay to give myself a break. I have seasons of challenging myself and taking risks, and seasons of staying the course and doing the best I can with the time and resources I have. I may not ever end up on top of a podium, but I’ll take the victories I have in my life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *