2015 IPC World Championships © James Netz

Wanting something too much, is at times, the reason why you won’t get it. Putting too much attention into wanting to achieve a goal detracts your focus from the process needed to achieve that goal. A goal is what you are heading towards. It is your reference point. Getting to that point is up to you. The process or journey is where your focus needs to be directed to. You are in control of your journey, your preparation. Success in achieving your goal comes from your preparation to succeed, not in your wanting to succeed. A tough lesson to be learned but one that constantly needs reminding. In Biathlon, Nordic skiing or any sport; preparation determines your success. I once heard a quote- “You don’t rise up to an occasion, you fall down to your level of preparedness.” For me it means that if you’ve prepared over the past weeks, months even years to be the best- you will.
Last week I was in Cable, Wisconsin for the 2015 IPC Nordic World Championships. A tough start to the Championships for me but it started to come around over the final weekend. I came in wanting too much. After some very successful major events in the past two years I wanted to continue upon that. I went to Cable wanting to medal. My preparation for fitness was there. I believed I was in shape and prepared to go fast in Cable. Looking back now, I know that my mindset wasn’t quite ready. A goal to medal is an easy goal to say but one of the hardest to achieve. It is also a goal where you don’t have complete control over whether you achieve it or not. I left behind goals that have been very successful for me in the past and replaced it with a goal that creates pressure simply by thinking it. Yes, I’m very capable of achieving that goal but not by thinking that it is the goal. The three Biathlon races all felt that I was doing ok but not great. Everything was close to 100% but nothing quite made it there. That becomes a frustrating feeling. I struggled to keep the focus on the overall process of what I know I need to do. Bouncing back and forth, reacting to what went wrong in the previous race.
On the course I was skiing technically quite strong but was hunting for that final top speed all week. The team had great skis throughout the Championships. I never let myself take full advantage of those skis. On the range I was working through some changes and a lot of thinking. I know my best shooting comes when it’s naturally. Again I felt that I was so close to that feeling but never quite reached it. Making mistakes on the range is costly.
And then it all turned around! With the three Biathlon races over, I had analyzed it all. I know how to fix the mistakes, now it was time to refocus. I had skipped the two earlier Cross Country races but was looking forward to 10km Classic race. I’ve worked on my classic skiing a lot over the past five years and I believed I was finally in a position to test it against the very best in the World. So starting anew after a testing week it came time to throw down. That was what I did in the 10km. I was in moment and raced to the best Cross Country race ever for me. I would finish fourth just 10 seconds off the podium. A personal best in a classic race. My last lap was second fastest in the field; it was a race where a lot of things came together. It felt right, it felt natural, I wasn’t overthinking it I just did it. I put no pressure on myself to do well, simply perform to my best! I was receiving very positive splits out of course, but stayed within my plan focusing on what I needed to do. Focused on the process.
The last day of the Championships was the Cross Country Relay. In the end the team would come just short again of the podium, finishing fourth. Adding yet another top-5 result to Canada’s resume at this year’s Worlds. The Relay was a fun event. We were in the mix for most of the race, bouncing around second or third until the very end. I skied the second leg, skating the 2.5km lap trying to build upon a strong start Chris had given the team.
I went into Worlds wanting to leave with results and medals. The lessons learned are far more valuable. I need to focus and control the process instead of trying to control the results. Learning these lessons the tough way is never fun but it does sear them into memory better. Then to wrap up the Championships with a fantastic classic race and a very exciting Relay was great. At the time I was struggling with these World Championships but I now know the importance of what I learned. Down the road I hope I can look back upon this World Championships and consider them a success not in results but in experience for the future. I can only do that if I have taken the lessons from Cable learned from them and avoid repeating them. Learning what it takes to be the best in the World!

© Photo credit James Netz


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