Train­ing Tip

Head and Heart Train­ing

Canadian Running - - DEPARTMENTS - Dr. Kim­ber­ley Dawn­son

Alex Gen­est

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

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


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.

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