We all think we’re giving 100% in races. But watching Alistair Brownlee this week, faced contorted in late-race agony, I couldn’t help but ask myself: how hard am I really trying?
In Matt Fitzgerald’s How Bad Do You Want It? – a brilliant book with a toe-curlingly bad title – he writes about our “unreachable physical limit”.
That’s not to say we are all super-athletes of unlimited potential. Quite the opposite: we are all wimps unwilling to break free from our mind-forged manacles. It is not the body that slows us down, but the brain.
The bravest athletes – the Prefontaines, Radcliffes and Brownlees – get closer to their physical limit than most.
The rest of us? My guess is that we rarely realise more than 80% of our physical potential. Yet we can, with training and iron-willed determination, walk a little further along those hot coals. Perhaps not as far as Alistair Brownlee, but further than we’ve ever gone before.
So next time you find yourself in a race, telling yourself the same old lie that you’re trying your hardest, picture Alistair Brownlee grimacing his way into the history books. Then ask yourself honestly: can I give more? The answer is, inevitably, ‘yes’.