It might not seem two minutes since the last Games but the 2016 Olympics are just around the corner which means there’s about to be a whole new generation of sports-folk, inspired to get out there and train.
So, whether you’ll be watching with bated breath as you cheer on your favourite athlete this summer or not, there’s a lot to be learned from the Olympic champions, who make completing the 100m sprint in less than 10 seconds or running 26 miles in just over two hours look so effortless.
1. Be active, always – Runners follow extremely demanding training schedules and train hard for several hours each and every day. Although hard and sometimes debilitating work, their dedication seriously pays off in competition.
As training is a year-round discipline and no one likes to do it in the cold, professional runners like to mix it up a bit. Just because they’re runners this doesn’t mean it’s their only training discipline; they’ll also swim because it’s much friendlier on the joints, train in the gym to increase their strength, train at altitude and also in varying climates. By doing this they’ll be able to deal with conditions at events all over the world.
2. Never give up – Even the best runners get injured, have bad days and lose races, but what makes them superhuman is the fact that they stare defeat in the face and get right back up and do it again the next day.
Just look at Paula Radcliffe for example, she’s the greatest female marathon runner the world has ever seen but when it came to her first Olympic marathon performance in Athens 2004 (prior to this she had only ran in the 5,000m and 10,000m events), it was possibly the worst performance of her life and the media didn’t let her forget it.
However, in 2005 she was back, running the race she loves and she became the female marathon world champion in Helsinki.
It doesn’t matter if you have a bad day in training, miss a workout, get injured or don’t stick to your PT’s strict program, follow in the footsteps of the best and find a way to get back up and carry on going.
3. Eat right – If you’re following in the footsteps of the fastest Olympians then you need to be willing to put all the salty, processed, fat laden junk foods aside. The amazing feats that they achieve and the grueling hours they put in all needs to be accompanied by the right fuel, so although the odd treat is by no means off the cards – come on, you’ve got to live a little – it means eating and drinking healthily all day, every day.
If you’re reading this in the UK or you’re akin with British TV you may have seen that long distance runner, Mo Farah, is a huge ambassador for healthy eating and is currently featured on the Quorn commercials, advertising it’s high protein and low fat content.
4. Sleep – Great athletes are known for their impeccable work/life balance. They might be up at the crack of dawn and training for between six and eight hours everyday but one thing they do not do is burn the candle at both ends.
When exuding so much energy it’s essential to get a restful night’s sleep in order to allow your body to rebuild the muscle and tissue that’s been broken down that day during training. The best athletes will sleep for between eight and ten hours every night and also have a siesta after training too – it’s a hard life and you need to allow your body to recover if you’re going for gold.
5. Goals – Every athlete should have a goal; although a pro runner’s end goal is undoubtedly to win competitions and medals, that would certainly not have been their first. Take Usain Bolt for example, he says here in a BBC interview that his first goal was to make sure his mum was okay. As an amateur runner, your goal could be anything, whether it’s joining your local athletics club, eating more healthily or losing weight. Remember, your goals, although a challenge, should be achievable because if they’re not, this will hamper your progress, your performance and your happiness.
Each and every time you reach a goal, you should reward yourself and make your next one a little harder to reach – winning a local 5k, maybe? Remember, in 2008 Usain Bolt joined that Olympic start line and no one really knew his name, now he’s considered one of the greatest Olympians of all time and is still setting himself goals until his retirement next year, telling an interviewer recently, “The plan in that time is three golds in Beijing, three in Rio to make a triple triple, and then one in London, as I’ll only be doing the 100 meters there. In short, I’m aiming for continued greatness.”
Dr. Campitelli is a podiatrist in Akron, OH specializing in foot and ankle surgery with an interest and enthusiasm for running as well as helping runners with injuries. For the past several years he has been treating running injuries in patients by fixing their form and transitioning them to minimalist shoes. Having treated runners with all types of injuries through conservative measures with orthotics and shoe gear changes to reconstructive foot and ankle surgery, Dr. Campitelli has brought what works best and is most current to his practice as well as the Akron and Cleveland running communities.