Lessons from an Olympic Medalist…

On Sunday I was lucky enough to be invited to speak at a motivation day for Hoddesdon Swimming Club. Hoddesdon for such a small club have a very professional setup and an excellent coach who likes to give her athletes the best possible support. I have been working with some of their junior athletes there for the last 4 months (mainly on their strength and power development) and we are getting some good results- national level qualification times for a few of the guys and the chance hopefully for a visit to London 2012.

As well as myself speaking at the event there was Judith Naseby (sports psychologist- helping the guys with motivation stratagies) from the University of Hertfordshire, David Carry (Commonwealth Gold Medalist- great speach on nerves) and Kerri-Anne Payne (World Gold Medalist and Olympic Silver Medalist).

The take home point from Keri’s talk was about the enjoyment of what you do- from a low level up to representing your country. A lot of the time we perform a certain sport or activity because we are good at it- not necessarily because we enjoy it. Keri discussed that after not performing very well at a major tournament she lost focus, her training went to pot and she felt like giving up. Indeed we all know that when things have been going well in sport and in any training or nutrition goal that a poor result can leave you demotivated and generally dissapointed in yourself. The key for her was to change her event, reinvigorating her training and setting new goals- the culmination of this was a silver medal at the Olympic games in 2008 and a gold medal at the World Championships in Rome in 2009.

Once the enjoyment factor goes then training and motivation can decrease. In the book Talent is Overrated By Geoff Colvin he discusses that among other things an enjoyment or passion for what you do is vital for becoming expert or elite. I feel this can be applied not just at a top level but to those looking to make a sustained change to their health and fitness. The key is fusing together support, motivation, variation of training and to have fun… without this the enjoyment factor can be reduced. Training can be fun but most gym members potter around and do a bit of activity in an unfocussed way. Training in itself is a focussed activity- it doesn’t mean it needs to be boring or demotivating- sometimes picking a new goal is the way to go- as Keri showed this. Going from swimming races at the 8 minute mark to performing 2 hours worth of open water swimming may seem a massive challenge but with ambition and focus she reapplied herself with great results. The change in focus was enough to remotivate her, get the enjoyment back in to what she does- and take her to the pinnacle of her sport.

The question is if you lack the motivation to train what’s your goal? If it’s not enjoyable find a goal that you can buy in to, even try something new. If you don’t have a goal then it’s always going to be harder to take that step up with your health, physique, fitness or performance…

Published by ianmellis

Ian Mellis MSc. CSCS is the co-founder of Results FAST (www.resultsfast.com)based in Ware, Hertfordshire. Specialising in athletic development, physique improvement and injury rehabilitation he provides personal training, strength and conditioning and nutrition coaching for motivated exercisers and those looking to make a long term change to their health, fitness and performance.

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