The Control Game
Updated: Feb 12, 2020
by Liesl Begnaud
Surrendering control can be terrifying; or, it can be liberating. Often triathletes are attributed to “Type A Personality”. Look that up and you'll find a temperament described by excessive ambition, aggression, competitiveness, drive, impatience, need for control, focus on quantity over quality, and an unrealistic sense of urgency. Driven, dedicated and focused can be positives, but not when taken to the extreme of obsessive, anxious and neurotic. We can get sucked into a certain way of behaving and training as an athlete.
I remind the athletes I work with to "control what you can control."
You can’t control the weather, but you can control how you respond to it. How do you respond? You can surrender to the weather it, train in it, and embrace it as an extra challenge if it comes on race day.
As an athlete, you control when you fit your workouts into your day. You take charge of your schedule so you can reach your goals. This is healthy control. You practice prioritizing.
Allowing yourself to miss a workout for a legitimate reason such as illness is another way of surrendering control. Can you do that without berating yourself or trying to “make it up?" What I witness too often as a coach is an athlete that gets obsessed with training and trains at all costs - the cost of family and friends, health, work, or finances. An unrealistic sense of urgency takes over and it becomes unhealthy.
A recent Facebook thread discussed how often athletes train without a computer. This is another example! How often do you simply run, swim, or bike without a watch, without collecting data? That is surrendering. One response was “never, my coach needs the data." Nope, not all the time. It’s important to train and take control of learning how you feel when you train at various paces and intensities.