Lessons for the non-pros from Usain Bolt

Monday, July 30, 2012 Permalink

I woke Saturday morning (Oz time) to Twitter and Facebook accounts of the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony in London. (Oops… am I even allowed to use those words in a sentence or will I be tracked down by the apparently-hardline ‘Brand Police’?! Hmm… No idea, but no one has knocked on the door yet so I’ll just assume it’s okay.)

Anyhoo, I must confess that I’ve been exhibiting little enthusiasm over the very expensive sporting event taking place across an ocean or two.

Although I’m yet to actually watch the much-lauded Opening Ceremony; over the last two nights I have found myself inexplicably pausing my TiVo in between watching (recorded) eps of Criminal Minds and the like, to actually watch bits and pieces of swimming, rowing and stuff – albeit on fast forward. And yes, I did get sucked in. A bit.

I don’t mean to make light of the Games and the gazillions of athletes around the world who dedicate years and years (and years) for a chance to compete, let alone those who make it there and those who take home medals.

In fact, I find it aspiring. Sure, I do enjoy those well-muscled male bodies as much as I hate envy the strong but streamlined female elite athletes who also appear on my screen; but I realise  that each and every one of them has a story to tell. They’ve undoubtedly overcome a lot and worked bloody hard to even walk into that stadium or dive into that pool. Not to mention often-unwelcome media attention. And it’s already started… the pleasure and pain. Favourites knocked off their perches and the unknown claiming newfound glory.

Pic from article

I just read an article in (of all places) GQ Magazine offering training tips from sprinter Usain Bolt – who I must confess I’d never heard of until a few days ago. Naturally I followed the link down the rabbit hole, keen to reignite my own ‘eye of the tiger’ (having not exercised for most of this past week after getting stitches in back following the removal of a cyst). Obviously I’m *ahem* far from an elite athlete, but I’ve taken his advice and translated it to relate to my own little universe.

So, I’m Schmieting his pointers, if you will:

1. Get out of the blocks fast
The importance of starting the way you intend to finish cannot be  understated. A half-hearted attempt may be better than no attempt at all; but having an exercise plan (or menu plan if dieting’s your thing) is key. Fortunately on the exercise front I tend to go to the same classes each week, so mine’s laid out before me. I just need to ensure I have some back-up options in place for when things fall over. (Or you know… get stitches in your back and can’t move about much! Umm… oops!)

2. Don’t rush to run tall. In Schmiet speak – Don’t do too much too soon
HELLO?! we’ve all been there… Deciding we’re gonna diet / get fit and WHAM suddenly we’re gymming twice a day and committing to hourly burpees and planks. Fast forward to three weeks later and GYM is just an incorrectly-spelled man’s name. Burn out baby. We’ve seen it again and again and I – for one – have learnt the hard way that sustainability is key. Finding something I enjoy doing and planning a sensible and feasible routine which I can sustain is now imperative.

3. You need power for the glory 
Anyone who’s read a single health or fitness magazine or article knows that muscle burns more calories than fat (something to do with our metabolism… yadda yadda yadda). We’re also told that weight-bearing exercise helps build strong bones and prevent osteoporosis and so forth – particularly in women. This is a no-brainer but I suspect there are still people out there who focus solely on cardiovascular fitness, to their own detriment. As for me, I currently only do one strength session a week and need to rethink this!

4. A strong core helps you score
While Bolt remains focussed on  his six-pack (yes, he confesses to this in the article); as a longtime pilates fan I can attest to the many benefits from working on your core strength in terms of preventing injuries as well as assisting with flexibility and agility.

5. Quality over quantity
Bolt claims that his training is done over short distances. I, for one, am a fan of efficient training sessions. I don’t have hours to spend at the gym and have many many other priorities. Trainers have (now) long promoted interval type training sessions for efficient and effective training.

6. Nature as well as nurture
It’s true… some people are just more genetically blessed than others (Don’t hate me cos I’m be-u-de-ful, kind of thing!). Even when I was skinny my thighs were bigger than I would have liked and I had fat knees. There are gazillions of people out there trying to spot-reduce tummies, thighs, hips and butts that are never gonna shrink. Some of us are pear-shaped, some apples, and some kinda like bulging bags of potatoes. And quite frankly the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian, Beyonce and Nicki Minaj have done well out of their bootylicious booties!

7. Eat like a Champion
Yes, well… this one is obvious, though Bolt does confess to indulging in the occasional treat. Thank f*ck!

8. Enlist a coach with the most
I’ve confessed that I’m not very self-motivated at the moment. If my workouts required me to get my big butt off the couch or desk chair and go and exercise, I’d be screwed. Instead I’m relying on others to do all of the heavy lifting. I turn up at the gym for my dance, weights, circuits, pilates class and just work my butt off. Someone will yell at me (nicely) and tell me what I need to do next. The rise of the personal training industry is further evidence that many of us often need a helping hand (or bellowing voice) to take it up a notch.

9. Don’t worry, be happy
Bolt talks about his ‘downtime’. I’ve never heard of a trainer or exercise specialist who hasn’t recommended a rest day. We’ve long heard stories of athletes pushing themselves too hard and coming down with all sorts of rare ailments. I don’t tend to physically push myself much at all (nowadays), but I find it hard to switch my head and mind off, so I need to work more on my mental downtime! I’ve recently started listening to a meditation CD and am hoping that zen-like thoughts filter into my brain.

10. Believe and you can achieve
A little bit of self-confidence and positivity can go a long way. I’m very much a glass-half-empty kind of gal. I tell myself I jump to the worst case scenario so that I’m never disappointed, rather I’m pleasantly surprised when things don’t turn out as badly as I’d expected. But, I know that this approach is far from ideal. In fact, I constantly commit here (in this very blog) to change my ways and strengthen my self-belief and be more positive and optimistic.

So there you have it. My take on a world champion’s ‘tips’… in Schmiet speak.

* Please remember I am not a fitness or health expert, though given my amazing insights I seriously cannot understand why people don’t seek my advice more often. 🙂


  • Liz@LastChanceTraining
    July 30, 2012

    I had a bit of a giggle at this one. Rock on sister 🙂

    • Debbish
      July 30, 2012

      Why thank you!

  • Miz
    July 30, 2012

    I learned yesterday I hath no strong core.
    apparently Im not scoring 🙂

    • Debbish
      July 30, 2012

      Oh Miz, I’m assuming this was at your yoga thing…. maybe it’s relative – perhaps others there were super-yogis or something!

  • Vicki
    July 31, 2012

    That is great advice Deb .. for everybody! Nice work!

    • Debbish
      July 31, 2012

      Thanks Vicki!

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