I'm a big fan of bike riding. I can't actually remember a time when I couldn't ride my bike. One of my first memories as a kid is my older brother taking my training wheels off and telling me I didn't need them. Ever since, biking has been a part of my active lifestyle. This last year has brought not only more time on my bike, but a little more commitment to training and getting more aerobically fit.
It's probably not coincidental that this was the first Tour de France I had payed attention to since Lance did his thing, then Floyd did his thing and on and on and on. This years Tour was highly entertaining and by way of watching more I ended up reading a book about cycling by Phil Gaimon called "Pro Cycling on $10 A Day."
It was a really enjoyable read and I learned quite a bit about the subculture, the lack of money, the struggle and sacrifices that pro cyclists deal with daily. It was far from my notion of signing a pro contract with a healthy salary. It was more like the namesake. I highly recommend the read as his sarcasm and literary wit comes through.
There was a page and half of writing that really resonated with me in terms of key principles. In this one section of the book Phil describes future Cyclocross National Champion Jeremy Powers coming to see where Phil was living. Jeremy was described as angry that his friend was not living like a pro athlete should. "What is this? You don't have any food. All you eat is deli meat, sandwiches and rice cakes. You've got to eat real food! You don't live like an athlete!
"You can sit here and half ass this thing, and you'll always make $20,000 a year, or you could do it right, invest in yourself, and make 10 times that. You know you have the talent, so stop being scared!"
Phil goes on to say that it finally made sense to kick in the last 1% of commitment, in his own words..."otherwise, my sacrifices would be for nothing."
Those few pages speak volumes to what I think is missing in a lot of athletes lives, but even going further what is missing in a lot of peoples lives. That 1%. A lot of time it might be embracing what we don't like or think is that important. Perhaps it is your cool down, you may have heard of its importance but have never paid much attention to it. Perhaps it was sleep, one more 30 min late night talkshow won't hurt will it? My doctor told me to walk, but walking can't really be that beneficial right? Perhaps it is the boring aerobic rowing class that your coach tells you would benefit you. Being more aerobically fit will help out a lot with your recovery in your sport, but it meets at 6am on a Saturday and that means choosing it over a late Friday night.
Committing to the 1% will always mean different things to different people. Whatever it is, I hope you learn to embrace it.