Hard work or talent? Which one?

Conor Dwyer Hard work

I don’t want to start ever post about a recent Rich Roll podcast I’ve listened to, but it is ever so good and you really should download and listen to it.

A recent guest was Conor Dwyer, an American swimmer who won gold in the London and Rio Olympic games in the 4×200-meter freestyle relay.

You may not have heard of him, but he trains and races with Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps (at least one of which you should have heard of) so he’s pretty useful.

The main take away from the podcast was –

“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”

Why this resonates with me, is that following some recent race performances, it has dawned on me that although I may have a modicum of talent (or at least think I do). I’m not working hard enough.

  • I’m not out running every day
  • I’m not up early in the morning
  • I’m not running at lunchtime or to/from work (when I have good opportunity to)

I‘ve mentioned before that sport came easily to me when I was younger. I did train hard and with that, came success. But the stuff I did 20 years ago bears no relevance to today. Just because I was once a fairly nifty runner, it doesn’t mean I’m one now.

At 18, Conor struggled to get recruited to a college swim team, but circumstances and hard work later put him in the same stratosphere as Phelps.

What is it that people who know and train with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi say?

“They’re first to training, they work the hardest, set the tone and they’re last to leave”

What about Lebron James? 3-time NBA champion. 4-time league MVP. 3-time Finals MVP. 2-time Olympic gold medallist. The cover star of Sports Illustrated at the age of 18.

LeBron Sports Illustrated
Credit – Sports Illustrated

He was born with a fairly unique set of tools (size, physique, speed). But he looks after himself. Diet, stretching, yoga, weights. Apparently, he spends $1.5 million a year on staying in shape. Understands he needs to recover and rebuilding his body. He is rarely injured. Works as hard in the offseason as he does in the regular season. He will out run you, out jump you and out hustle you. Because he works harder than you.

Lebron James
Credit – Instagram/@KingJames

He put it well himself –

“I am blessed with all this talent and was born an athlete, so I need to treat myself with respect”

Grit and Running

Hard work has also become known as “grit”. Grit is defined as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals” and is the topic of bestselling books and popular TED talks.

The grittier you are, the greater your chances of success!

This is no sport where this is truer than distance running. If you put in the hours/miles and you’re on point with the other variables (diet, hydration, recovery etc.) you’ll likely to be more successful. The other thing you will not have is excuses. That is just as powerful. Standing on the start line knowing you have put the work in and done everything in your power to be in the best shape possible can have a massive mental advantage.

It’s what makes Lebron James think he can do this! Just look how far back he comes from!

The Richmond Half showed me I’ve still got a bit of something and I have the strength to meet some adversity and get through it.

So with a plan, some focus, some dedication I can be ready for the Hackney Half in a few weeks time.

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