Saturday, February 12, 2005 - Perspective
Haywood National Team Report: Patience

- By: Phil Widmer

As an athlete there are many characteristics I dream of having. How many times have I wished I were stronger, tougher, smarter, or better looking? However, one thing I never wished for was to be more patient. But now, as I progress through my ski career, I realize that it may be just as important as other, more obvious traits.

Patience is key to "making it" in this sport because no skier makes it happen overnight. It takes years for anyone to reach their full potential. So, at times when things don't go as planned and the questioning begins, patience is crucial. For young and developing athletes there is a lot to learn in order to make it to the top of the ladder. And I am learning that you have to climb that ladder one step at a time.

I could go on about the lessons I've learned and the ones I still need to learn, but really there isn't much point in talking about them because no one can fully understand the importance of rest and recovery or working hard until you feel the benefits. Nor can I explain in words the feelings of "under-recovery"– until you feel it for yourself. Of course proper guidance and coaching are crucial during the learning process, but experiencing something is quite different than being told about it. When things go well, it's easy to say "Great. Keep doing what you're doing." But when things go poorly, it's important to take a step back and figure out "What went wrong?"

Learning from outcomes is crucial. Yeah, it sucks to make any mistake. But making the same mistake twice really bites. That's why it's so important to learn as much as possible from all the mistakes that are made. In the spring one of the things our team "head doctor", Cal, went over was the process of debriefing. At first I didn't really understand it. Why would I go over something I just did? I thought I knew what had happened or what went wrong. But, I was surprised to see how many little things I picked up on, when I revisited the situation.  Debriefing is a great way to fully learn from any success or failure. It can be done mentally or you can spell it out on paper, but going back and revisiting things brings greater clarity.

Every time I learn a lesson the hard way it takes time to bounce back. Confidence gets hurt and doubts arise. You wonder what you are doing and consider whether you have what it takes. These are big questions and the answers lie in the future. But, if you have patience and don't forget to keep "perspective" (thanks Cal) things don't seem so bad. Soon the excitement and anticipation for the future returns.

For me this is always truly motivating. Asking myself: What does the future hold? No one knows and so all I can do as an athlete is do everything in my power to learn the lessons and apply them to future situations.

Haywood WC Report is powered by Haywood Securities Inc., proud sponsor of the Senior National Cross Country Ski Team

Source: Cross Country Canada

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