Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Think Like a Bumblebee, Train Like a Racehorse

I recently heard an idea and the idea hit me like a sack of nickels. To be truly successful you must do two things: think like a Bumblebee and train like a Racehorse.

Many of you may know the story of the Bumblebee, so please bear with me as I explain it for those who don’t.

Years ago, a group of scientists at NASA became interested in the bumblebee. They would spend countless hours hypothesizing how this big, furry insect with wings much too small for their body be able to fly with such ease?  More importantly, if they could figure this out and replicate it, the US would be able to build aircraft and flying weapons far more powerful than any other country.  So hours turned into days, into months, and years.  Finally, this group made up of some of the smartest aerophysicists in the world came to the conclusion that it just doesn’t work.  The bumblebee, according to the laws of physics, is too large and too heavy to fly using such small wings.  But the bumblebee keeps flying. Why?

You see, while the scientists stated their doubts and reasoning, the bumblebee didn’t listen. The bumblebee has faith in itself. As an athlete, more importantly as a human, you need to have a belief in yourself that far surpasses anyone else’s. Don’t let your parents, your professors, or your teammates limit your abilities by forming to their beliefs.

And now the Racehorse.

Speaking physiologically, racehorses are absolutely phenomenal specimens.  Their O2 kinetics are a thing of beauty. The power that they are able to produce is something of mythical proportion. They are absolute phenomenal athletes.  And the thing is, they know it.  They know it isn’t normal for a horse to have a heart-rate monitor hooked up to it. It is not normal for a horse to run repeat intervals at threshold paces, to eat a diet made up of grasses imported from halfway across the world.  An just like humans, when horses toe the line before the race they are nervous as hell. They know something special is about to happen. And in there is the subtle difference between a racehorse and a human.  They KNOW something special is going to happen.

A racehorse trains hard every day with the occasional rest day scheduled. They might even see other horses training. But at no point do they question their training. You won’t see a horse running a few extra miles because they “need it”. Horses recognize their role, they are the athlete. Their trainer creates the plan, and the horse executes it.  The horse knows that it is a strong and fast athlete, and knows the trainer is smart and wants the horse to be as fast as possible.  There is never a moment of doubt or second-guessing.

In sport and in life, no plan is going to work until you buy into it fully.  Execute the plan, whatever it may be, with your best effort and you will then reach your fullest potential.

Ben Skutnik
Luther 2008
Physiology Graduate Student at Kansas State

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