Training her strengths
Clara Hughes can go faster and further than most. Watch and wait and see. Standing on the sidelines she will blast right on by before you know it. Six Olympic metals offer proof of her athletic ability and tell part of her personal story.
When it comes to speed and endurance, especially endurance, she is very difficult to beat. Let her lace-up her skates or get her on her bike and she will keep going and going and going. Fast.
In Mr. Bean’s Holiday, Rowan Atkinson may have been impressively speedy on his borrowed bike in his frustrated attempt to get to La Mer, but he can’t keep up with Clara Hughes. Few can.
While I have never met Clara, her husband, Peter, would likely tell you that she is much more than an elite athlete. People are complex. Her Olympic class speed is what originally put her in the public eye. More recently, attention has been focused on her battle with depression. But Clara isn’t only an elite athlete or an example of someone who has overcome a serious internal struggle even in the midst of incredible success. Significant accomplishments to be sure. There is, however, more to Clara Hughes.
Clara is a unique individual. She is a valuable person regardless of apparent failure or success. She has a lot to offer in a variety of ways. She has a whole life to live. She arrived on this earth like everybody else…packed with potential.
Could it be that you have been focused on your weaknesses for far too long?
Every now and then, one of Canada’s trainer fighter jets suddenly shows up on the horizon and then dips down into a large valley close to where I live. Let me tell you, these planes are very fast. Hopefully, fast enough.
And now, after 40 years of living and over 20 years of competing, Clara is attempting to pedal her way all the way to the podium at the 2012 Olympics this summer in London. She is focused. Determined. For the opening of the Summer Olympic Games in London is now less than one month away. Considering the level of competition it is going to be a challenge. But, together with many other Canadians, I want to wish her well; I hope she succeeds.
Speaking as a spectator, and someone who gets tired driving a car, her level of athletic ability is truly impressive. At a recent cycling race in Boise, Idaho, Clara covered 70 km/day – at high speeds. It was a three-day event. As if one day of racing wasn’t enough. And it was held in the mountains. Gruelling. Are you feeling tired just thinking about it? Many people sitting in the stadium or watching on TV will likely wonder how athletes from all over the world go so far and so fast.
How do they do it and why?
Driving by touring bikes loaded down with the latest gear on the highway, I occasionally wonder about the sanity of some of these people. Particularly when it is raining and the wind is picking up I wonder, “Why put yourself through all this pain if you don’t have to?” I feel like saying, “There are other pedals you can push, you know.” But people are different and enjoy different things. They may have all sorts of good reasons for doing what they are doing. Some might wonder the same thing about me.
As it turns out, Clara puts herself through a lot of pain, and invests a lot of time and effort, in order to reach her potential. She has been doing this for years. Daily. In a recent CBC interview she described her specific preparations for the upcoming Olympics in three words. Why is she living high up in the mountains of Utah? Why does she eat such healthy food? What is she doing day after day as she rides her bike?
Endurance is her strong point. And she hopes to become even stronger through her high-altitude training program.
Sounds like a good idea.
Every country has an Olympic champion or two to celebrate. Someone who inspires everybody else to do great things. Jamaica has Usain Bolt. America has Micheal Phelps. The Czech Republic has Roman Sebrele. And Canada can lay claim to Clara Hughes. It is no surprise that she was selected to carry the flag and lead in the Canadian team at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Her story is inspiring.
One of Clara’s goals is to, “Motivate youth and inspire hope in others through her actions.” I hope her story also inspires you to identify and develop your strengths.
Could it be that you have an outstanding ability that has yet to be discovered? And could it be that you have been focused on your weaknesses for far too long when you really should be training your strengths?
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