When a legendary triathlete like Chris McCormack or ‘Macca’ (two-time winner of the Ironman World Championship), who has a reputation for being arrogant and cocky, decides to write a book about his personal and professional life, it’s only natural to be a little sceptical. More often than not, such books tend to carry a lot of fluff, the usual motivational pep talk, but they lack any substantial advice for aspiring athletes or regular trainers. Luckily for you, McCormack’s book titled I Am Here to Win: A World Champion’s Advice for Peak Performance is anything but flippant. McCormack has written an exhaustive book, which has something for everyone, right from technical advice for hardcore trainers to inspirational tips for the layman out there. Given below are a few important take-away’s from this book.
Build a skeleton but keep things flexible
By now, you must have internalized the doctrine which says that you must set a definite goal and achieve it come what may. Truth be told, Macca will be completely dismissive of such a plan, or as he says in his own words, “this is bullshit”. It’s time to wipe the slate clean and start afresh.
According to McCormack, one should build a basic skeletal i.e. a framework for training schedule, but improvise on it regularly. A lot depends on the ultimate goal of a trainer, his/her age, the kind of race in question, weather conditions etc. For instance, Macca’s goal is to win the race but for a beginner, completing a race is a huge achievement in itself. Accordingly, their training schedules will be different and one will be more intensive than the other. It’s not about putting a tick mark across an arbitrary goal, it’s about asking yourself if that goal is doing you any good at all. McCormack will probably say to hell with numbers and mental goals, the key is to stay flexible.
Eat plenty, eat right
If you were under the impression that you have to survive on leans and lentils to become an athlete, you are in for quite a surprise. Macca says that he is no ‘monk’ when it comes to food; in fact, he manages to eat well 90% of the time. Once again, the key is to ‘know thyself’ i.e. you must have a basic understanding of what you are eating and how your body responds to it. Macca urges trainers to eat healthy fats (almonds,avocado oil) and lean protein (fish poultry, tofu), and to binge on fruits and vegetables as they are rich sources of antioxidants. For workouts, he advises trainers to load up on complex carbs like whole grain bread and brown rice. This advice is equally relevant for a pack ironman competitor and a regular trainer trying to balance work and family life.
So far, so good, Now, let’s move on to more complicated nutrition advice. McCormack talks at length about hydrating your muscle a few hours before a training session. Start drinking water loaded with electrolytes a few hours before you start training. This keep your muscles hydrated and prevents cramps.
Finally, Macca swears by Coke. Surprised, right! He says that it provides the perfect boost of sugar, caffeine and calories during a workout.
Embrace the suck
For McCormack, all triathlons boil down to one thing – pain and how well you can handle it. This is something all of us can relate to irrespective of the level of training we have. Even when you are running on a treadmill at your gym, there will be a moment of extreme suffering when your body will give up and your mind will force you to stop. And how do we normally respond? We fight this moment, we detest it, but nine times out of ten, it gets the better of us. Macca advises people to do the exact opposite i.e. treat pain like a long lost friend, embrace the suffering, let it overwhelm you and analyse how your body performs under such conditions. Then, try to mould your body responses and you will go from strength to strength.
Last but not the least, allow your body to rest without feeling guilty about it. McCormack says that after a race, he relaxes for eight days, both physically and mentally. Spend time with your family, laze around at the beach, read your favorite book – do whatever makes you happy. After all, you will need all the energy you can gather when you start training again.