Just as in parenting, in endurance sports there are plenty of discussions of nature versus nurture. What's more important, good genes or good training habits? My parents did not actively exercise while I was growing up, though I never stopped moving myself. Maybe having grown up during WWII they felt exercise was frivolous, or maybe it was something else, but while I never saw them as active people, they made sure that we had every opportunity to be outside.
What has me pondering this unanswerable question is an article in the November/December 2011 issue of Inside Triathlon, "Why The Best Are The Best--And How You Can Emulate Them," by Torbjørn Sindballe. Besides being a former world-class athlete, Sindballe is also one of my favorite writers in the endurance niche.
The gist of the article is that we are dealt our genetic hand and, while some may have a competitive advantage because of it, everyone has a chance by developing strengths in other areas. Here then, are some lessons from some of the best elite triathletes:
- Craig Alexander - incredible run efficiency and maniacal preparation.
- Mark Allen - mental toughness, developed over years.
- Paula Newby-Fraser - intelligent preparation and study of the sport.
- Chris McCormack - master tactician.
- Dave Scott - strengthening stability muscles, emphasis on nutrition.
So, while you or I may not have the genetics to fall back on, maximizing our potential in other areas can have us perform at our peak and be competitive, if so desired.
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