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Embrace The Intagibles

I was out mountain biking with a fledgling new cycling club last night.  9 riders with varying levels of experience aced/ survived/ hammered the single track out to Echo Dale along the river valley.  Although there is no rating system for trail difficulty applied to our local paths (yet) Iím sure this trail would have garnered a twelve on a ten scale from several of the group last night.  There were smashed shins, cactus punctures, bumps and bruises, a lot of sweat and toil, there may have even been the odd expletive uttered through gritted teeth.  What was cool to witness was the no quit attitude of several of these riders whose cycling skills were clearly pushed to the limits.  After a harrowing upside down trip to the bottom of a ravine that would have had a lesser athlete cleaning their drawers one rider simply popped up and said ďIím ok!Ē.


We helped drag her bike back up the hill, she dusted off, yanked out a few cacti and hopped right back on the horse that bucked her off.


Which leads into the meat of todayís article.


Tenacity, gumption, never say die, courage in the face of adversity, these are the traits that talent scouts call intangibles.  In 20 years of helping athletes get to the next level, and watching others fall off the radar, it is painfully obvious that these intangibles are what yield champions at every level.  Pure talent and sick skills will only take you so far, at some point you will be a healthy scratch, workouts will stop being fun, injury will slow you down, and the competition will be better than you.  Those athletes that have not been spoon fed, that have had to fight through pain, failure, wicked crashes and disappointment yet continue to push on are the athletes who are successful. Incidentally they are also the co worker later in life that we all want on our team.


So as most of the winter athletes out there glide into the off season I would like to suggest that if you truly want to improve you need to take stock of all facets of your athletic skill set including the intangibles.


Purge your mind set of excuses as to why you canít, whoís to blame, and how hard it is.  And focus instead on what you can do to improve when the chips are down.


Do you really give it all youíve got?  Do you embrace honest criticism and work to address it?  Are you that athlete who constantly seeks to improve?  Do you use all the resources at your disposal in order to get the most out of your training?


One guy who does these things is Peak Performance alumni Steve Kuhn.  An Oyen, Medicine Hat hockey product, Steve has set an ironman record with the WHL Spokane Chiefs playing in every exhibition, league, and playoff game without a miss for 4 years. Although the big leagues arenít banging down his door his gritty, tenacious style of play and never quit attitude has enamoured him to the Spokane fans and his teammates as well.


Athletes with the same kind of determination and commitment that Steve and our mountain biking sister display, who jump right back on that bucking horse are certain to continue to excel in sport and in life.



Ed Stiles BPE, Certified Exercise Physiologist is a member of the Alberta Sport Development Centerís Performance Enhancement Team and operates Peak Performance Fitness Services. He can be reached via email at asdc@mhc.ab.ca or at peakperform@hotmail.com