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Coaches Blog

The Three Sides of Sport

Sport - no matter how loosely it is defined, has 3 aspects. The aspects go by many names, but they are the same no matter what they are called. I like to think of them as The Pretty, The Boring, and The Ugly.

(Yes, a play on The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Which is an excellent movie)

Like the names, the order makes no difference. Let’s start with The Pretty.

The Pretty refers to the “Instagram” version of the sport. People showing perfect form for a few seconds of video that has been put through as many filters as possible. Running strides that appear effortless; a 1600+ watt cycling sprint; a 4 pull length in the pool; or a no-look 3-pointer from the corner. These feats are impressive and possible (at least for a few seconds and multiple takes). This is the pinnacle of the sport.

The Boring

The Boring is the training. The Pretty only exists because people that have put 1000s of hours into that sport have mastered the technique. The Boring is the difficult aspect of the sport; it requires dedication and humility. Slow base miles, endless laps staring at the black line at the bottom of the pool, missing countless shots. All of this is Boring. No one wants to see the tedious, boring aspect of sports, but those who embrace the Boring can ultimately get to the Pretty.

The Ugly

The Ugly is what is needed for competition. It doesn’t matter how Pretty and Boring an athlete is, Ugly is what an athlete needs for competition. Your stride can look effortless; you may have put in 200 hours of training for a race, but if you cannot push yourself to that Ugly place in the last mile to beat the person next to you, what is the point?

Competition is competition. It is the opportunity to push yourself beyond your limits. Yes, you can push yourself in training, but it is not the same as in competition. In competition, there are other athletes. Some might even be more Boring or Pretty than you. However, they might not be willing to be as Ugly.

Ugly hurts. Having snot pouring down your face in the finish chute, tunnel vision as you make it to the top of a climb, going hypoxic in the last turn, or taking a flagrant foul to make a 3-pointer are all Ugly. Ugly is the great leveler. Winners are Ugly.

The nice thing about sports is all 3 aspects are not required. There is absolutely nothing wrong with not being Ugly. That is just not a part of some people. Others do not want to be Boring, which is also fine. Sport comes down to what you want. You can run a race just because your friends are racing, maybe life is in the way of training for an IRONMAN, or you can’t figure out how to record an Instagram video. You get to pick the aspects you experience.


Coach Adam Sczech is an IRONMAN University Certified Coach, USAT Level I Certified Coach, NASM Certified Personal Trainer, and VFS Master Bike Fitter based out of the Western Slope of Colorado. Adam has years of experience coaching beginners, juniors, elites, and clubs as well as a year focusing specifically on special needs athletes. Adam's expertise with bike fitting is extensive with over 15 years and 8,000 fits for athletes that include two world record holders, a national champion, several IRONMAN Pro/Age Groups winners, and an ITU winner. He has completed several full and half Ironman races, as well as numerous Olympic and Sprint races.


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