Head and Heart Training
Alex Genest is the 2015 Pan Am silver medallist in the steeplechase and has competed at the 2012 London Olympics and multiple World Championships. He’s already qualified for Rio, and must finish top three at the National Track and Field Championships to compete in his second Olympics. But what has allowed Genest to balance his quest for running success and family life?
Take a Leap of Faith
Genest had a successful running career in Quebec when he decided to change his training environment to relocate to Guelph, Ont. in order to train with Dave ScottThomas and compete for the University of Guelph. With English as his second language and a strong family connection in Quebec, this was a transition based on determination and a willingness to explore the possibilities of a new life path.
When You Fall Down, Get Back Up and Run Even Faster
While competing at the 2015 World Championships, Genest was having a strong race, when his trailing leg hit a barrier and he fell to the track. Despite being surprised and confused, he got to his feet and completed what he started. Genest finished the race demonstrating his courage and mental strength.
Know What Is Important In Life
Although Genest is incredibly motivated to run fast, continue to improve and compete at his best, he is also well aware of where his priorities lie. Genest’s partner MC and their two young boys, Arno and Elliott, are ever present in his running journey. The picture that f loated on social media of Genest celebrating his Pan Am performance with his son Arno was voted as one of the best moments of the Pan Am Games. Genest invests as much time in his family’s health as he does in improving his own fitness.
Admit When You’re Struggling
After competing i n the 2012 Olympics, Genest came home pleased with his performance and was motivated to train harder for the next Games. Typical of post-Olympic def lation, Genest experienced a drop i n his mood. But this lethargy and emotional fatigue did not dissipate. He pushed through until the summer of 2014, when he acknowledged that he was burnt out physically and emotionally. Not competing at the National Championship that summer was a difficult decision for Genest. It’s never easy to admit when you are struggling to manage the requirements of your life. After taking that summer completely free of training, he began to run again alone in the forest surrounding his parent’s home in Quebec. When he found the smile on his face again, he knew he was back.
Nicole Sifuentes has had an i mpressive running career. She is currently the 2015 Pan Am 1,500m silver medallist and national champion in both the 1,500m and 5,000m. She has competed in the 2012 London Olympics and various World Championships. She won the bronze medal in the 2014 World indoor 1,500m. Sifuentes’s successful approach to running has some valuable insights for everyone. No one is more determined or motivated to run than Sifuentes. It’s simple for her. She wants to run as fast as she can and she wants to win while she’s doing it. Sifuentes consistently attempts to run better than she did the day before and do it faster than the competition. She reminds us all to not only find our passion but that the desire to improve will drive that passion. Sifuentes has maintained a high-level running career since college. She’s asked a lot from herself and from those around her. Her husband Tony has been there for all of it. He makes the sacrifices that are necessary for her to train, travel and compete. But more than that, he reminds her to see more
than running, take time to relax, and enjoy life away from running. His steady presence helps Sifuentes chase her more emotionally variable running goals.
Expand Your Definition of Achievement
When I first met Sifuentes, she had an extremely narrow definition of her achievements. Her evaluations of success were all based on PB’s and season’s bests. She was
SHE REMINDS US ALL TO NOT ONLY FIND OUR PASSION BUT THAT DESIRE TO IMPROVE WILL DRIVE THAT PASSION.
missing some of her most valuable accomplishments. Over time, she has taught herself to see more of her running process-related achievements and focus less on time, place and comparison to previous years. Her success is now determined by the totality of her running experiences instead of being defined by one workout, one race or one season.
Aim to Achieve Success Rather Than to Avoid Failure
Sifuentes can give herself unnecessary work to do. She often worries about the worst case scenario and how she will deal with her impending emotions of frustration or disappointment if this particular outcome should occur. Over time, she has learned to adjust her expectations by reminding herself that the outcome hasn’t happened yet and that it may never will. She need not fear a consequence or try to avoid an outcome. This year one of her objectives is to commit to taking the measures that will lead to success without focusing on possible failures. She will discontinue the unnecessary burden of worrying about the consequences of undesirable events and be confident in her ability to manage any eventual outcome that may occur.