Up The Road

No Excuses

"I'm too tired"

I've been thinking about this statement a lot lately.  Not really because of the coming winter (though the thought of hibernation is appealing); not because I've been looking for an excuse to hide behind for not writing in months.  Not even because of a recent 42 hour travel extravaganza that took me to 3 continents in 2 days.  Nope!  I've been thinking about this statement because i think it might be bull****.  At the very least I have a new found appreciation for what it might take to get there.  

I can't remember how many times I've skipped a workout, or passed on a night-ride, or a even skipped out on a beer amongst friends in favor of dropping that excuse.  But, what if those 3 words weren't part of my vocabulary?  What might I have achieved?  Experienced?  Seen?  And what if the greatest difference between those who "do," and those who "do not" rests in the use of that phrase?  What if the greatest moment of  life, or key to  success, or the difference between good and great is rooted in the moment before a decision to use or not use those 3 words?

Last week at Trek we were paid a visit by Car Racing legend Tony Kanaan.  Turns out he's an avid cyclist, and triathlete, in addition to being one the top Indy Car racers in the world.  After spending the day with Tony delivering him of the most bitchin' Speed Concepts you'll ever see, a couple of things became utterly clear. 

The first of these is that boundless energy barely describes Tony Kanaan.  He's like a walking can of Redbull moving from one thing to the next demanding enthusiasm to follow at his heals.  It's easy to see how he can drive at 200 miles per hour and make life-altering decisions in the time it takes the rest of us to blink.  It's a function of un-bounding energy and a commitment to never let it ebb.  And this level of energy is contagious.  One cannot spend any appreciable time with Tony Kanaan and not begin to feel energized themselves.  The second, is that the secret to Tony's success is not unique to him.  Rather its a theme that reappears in every athlete I've had the great pleasure to work with.  Chris Lieto, Julie Dibens, Lance Armstrong, you simply would never hear them drop an offhand excuse like, "I'm too tired."

This hit me during Tony's visit like 800 Horsepower at 16000 rpm.     

"Are you doing an Ironman this year?" Tony asked me.

"Well...uh....I've been travelling a lot, and it's made training really hard." my response

"No EXCUSE, I travel 270 days a year.  Everywhere you go you can bring your running shoes, or swimming gear, or rent a bike, so are you?"

Me again "Well...I work quite a lot....really long hours, tough to get the best out of the body.."

Tony:  "No Excuse.  If you want to, you can," and he means it, and the conversation is over.   

So, I now ask you, "how many times have you told yourself that you're too tired?"  That you "have too much to do," that "you're just working too hard?"  How many times in that moment of decision have you decided to use that phrase?  I for one have used it too often. 

Tony Kanaan, Race car driver, World traveller, Father, Superstar, Triathlete.  What allows him to be all these things?  Simple, NO EXCUSES.  Tony is an example for us that we can do it if we want to.  That's not to say we are all born with the same level of ability or that we could all be car racing superstars or world class athletes, but we do all have the capacity not to let, "I'm too tired" give us a reason not to try. 

What if the greatest moment of your life is rooted in the moment before a decision to use or not use a single phrase?

What if "no excuses" replaced "I'm too tired?"

Thanks for the visit Tony, and thanks for the motivation.  Perhaps I will have to consider an Ironman this year.  After all, I have no excuses.

Comments

Hugh

Nick,
I think you have over simplified reasoning to not work out or take action related to sports presumably. "No excuses" strikes me about as favorably as the old, old adage, "no pain no gain". Its trite, male centric, and too militaristic for today's sports enthusiast. How about "its not a priority today"? Also, look at the stats in America, we are a sleep deprived society. Being too tired does indeed apply. Plus, doing some sport activity when you're not ready and alert and energized can be very dangerous and hazardous to one's health. Come on, lets get past machismo in sports edicts.

Bethany

Hugh~

As someone who is quite the opposite of machismo (the antonyms being "female or feminine"), I must say you sound like exactly the person this post is targeted toward - using sleep deprivation as an excuse to avoid a little exercise? Give me a break. There are about as many "stats" that say exercise helps with sleep deprivation. And Nick doesn't seem to be telling anyone to race an Ironman instead of sleeping... or to race an Ironman if you're not physically fit enough to do so, but if every athlete, pro or amateur, only trained/exercised/raced in the likely few moments where they were "ready, alert, and energized" there would be an even higher population of obese, unhealthy, and sleep-deprived people walking (oh wait, NOT walking) this earth.

Exercise is about the only thing most scientists agree makes you healthier and prolongs your life - if you want to live longer and/or feel better, make it a priority. Put down your wii controller and cheese puffs and go walk a few miles! EVEN IF YOU'RE TIRED.

Bethany

John

Nick and Bethany I thank you for your words.
Hugh at one point a year and a half ago I was using your words daily to avoid life. I was 468 pounds and doing nothing, but I changed, I threw down the excuses and adopted the attitude of I will DO. To date I have dropped 160 lbs losing weight every day (even holidays) I purchased a Trek hard tail mountain bike on which I now ride 60 miles per week at a minimum, on days that I don't ride I walk a minimum of a mile. Time may restrict me and keep me from doing a long work out but I fit something in each and every day. I'm too tired is what I consider a tired excuse and each person that uses it needs to realize that when they make that statement they are refusing life. In February of this year (2011) I am purchasing a Madone 4.5 and by April I intend to do my first century ride, with three to four more throughout this year. I am excited by my new self and my new life which I owe to an attitude change and truthfully to the joy of cycling. Again Nick I thank you for your words and they make one think… and that is a good thing!

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