The Big P and the Sheriff

One of my favorite memories as a child was having a parent or grandparent read me a bedtime story.

Bedtime stories are significant for many reasons but are still applicable today.  One reason for this is the bedtime story becomes part of a routine and routines are important for everyone.  I was reminded while working with a client this morning who was laughing about me having too many dogs, that good dogs have a routine.  When a dog is left without a routine it will dig holes in your yard and tear things up.  We can do the same thing to ourselves if we lack structure and routine.  I encourage everyone to set a bedtime and wake time and stick to it.  Having a good consistent bedtime routine will go a long way to helping you sleep and recover better.

Like any good story, we need to start with a setting and some character development. 

There may be a small percentage of people reading this that know the actual guys and have stuck around since the early days of 4D, but I figure identities are safe in 2022.  It’s the mid to late 2000s, triathlon is going full stride, but social media hasn’t really taken off with the masses yet.  There are not a lot of Ironman races and 70.3 was just getting started.  Baton Rouge Triathlon club was known as BRTri.  BRTri had a forum on its webpage much like Slowtwitch and what is on our 4D page and this is where all the events were planned, the trash was talked and like-minded people, or at least people with triathlon interests interacted on the web.  It was the best of times.

Unlike Facebook, on the BRTri forum, you could use an alias or nickname.  Most of the time everyone knew who everyone was and most of the trash talked was in good fun though some were clearly passive-aggressive or just plain aggressive.  The moderators were not quick to pull many posts. 

That’s where our main character comes in.

The Big P

The Big P was very active on the forum; by trade he was at a computer most of the day.  This guy likes to stir the pot.  Talked a lot of trash, good, bad, and outright mean.  This being said, he was still one of the good guys and made a lot of what was BRTri at that time fun.  He always had a chip on his shoulder about something.  Sometimes it was about respect, other times it was about others not agreeing with him or just his need to be more alpha. 

The Big P had two main forum nemesis, one I will refer to as the Sacred Cow, and the other I’m just going to call Sandpiper.  The Big P was always in it with the Sacred Cow and Sandpiper, these guys just got to him, and more importantly, he let them get to him.  The Big P was no slouch, yet he felt like these other guys got too much credit and he didn’t get enough for his race results.  The Big P put in plenty of work and though he talked a lot of trash on the forum he quietly trained.  Then his moment came: Ironman Florida was always the biggest event on the calendar as it was the only Ironman race you could drive to at the time.  The Big P snuck off to IMFL and delivered a 10:45 finish time. This was considerably faster than Sandpiper, and I don’t even think the Sacred Cow had done an Ironman yet. 

In the Big P’s mind, he became the boss of the forum. Every day at 10:45, he reminded everyone what time it was.  It was the best of times.

All this time there was another athlete lurking in the background of the forum, of course. He was posting from time to time and even trained on occasion with all the players mentioned above.  He was a very likable average guy.  Nothing would jump out about this guy other than he had a real high-stress work environment and a laugh like a jackal.  This guy worked hard, he made sacrifices, and he started getting coached.  When IMFL rolled around the next year, he executed well despite making a critical mistake and leaving his planned nutrition in the hotel refrigerator. 

Overcoming this and surpassing The Big P’s time with a 10:36, and going onto the forum to announce that “There is a new Sheriff in town!”  It was the best of times.

What is the significance of this story? How can we learn from The Big P and The Sheriff? 

There are a lot of things to unpack here. 

  • First, these guys were motivated.  I can spend an entire future blog on motivation alone, but we will just call them motivated.  They wanted to move from average to exceptional.  Remember average to exceptional is always scalable, there are average Olympians and then there are Gold medal winners. 
  • Second, they created a mindset to do what it took to reach the goal. 
  • Finally, they saw their plan through.

Emotion in Winning.

I’m currently reading Tim Grover’s book, Winning.  In the last chapter, I read he spoke heavily on emotion and winning.  Emotions are powerful and oftentimes you can’t control them.  You can always control your response to the emotion.  It is in fact your response to these emotions that affects the outcome of a situation.  (E+R=O) Let’s go back to The Sherriff leaving his infinit nutrition in his hotel the morning of the race and getting to transition to start his A race only to not have a critical part of his plan and no time to retrieve it.  Knowing him as well as I do, I know the words that flew out of his mouth must have hurt even the saltiest peoples’ ears.  However, his true response was to improvise and overcome.  Many people would have checked out right on the spot and headed down the path of complaining, blaming, or being defensive of their error.  You can train to be disciplined rather than to default to emotional response.  I had a football coach in high school that every time I made a mistake at practice would ask me what happened and if I would respond with “I thought” he would shout “Don’t think! React!”  To this day I default to this every time I start overthinking things.  The Big P was a Marine, Marines are trained to be Marines.  They drill and drill and drill.  There is no quit, I have witnessed The Big P cross multiple finish lines and collapse.  Even when he knows he’s wrong or outgunned he won’t surrender. Emotion can play a role in arousal, which of course affects performance. There is always an optimal level of arousal, can’t be too high or too low. Too low and you will not perform, where if its too high you will burn out.

This story doesn’t have a happy ending. 

Both the Big P and the Sheriff flew too close to the sun and burned up.  There is one more component to consider and it is the main reason people fail at diets or training plans that are too aggressive.  That component is sustainability (optimal arousal)  We live in a world of instant gratification, but we must remember that patience is a virtue.

The lesson here is:

  • Have the proper mindset
  • Create a sustainable plan
  • Do the work
  • Be coachable
  • Strive to be consistently good rather than occasionally great.

If you have listened to me long enough you have heard me talk about the 3D’s of action.  You must first have the desire to change. You must be determined to see it through.  And you must be disciplined in your process. 


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