Just the right push to succeed!
A few weeks ago, I was in the gym and asked a friend, Mike, if he’d mind if I’d interview him for a fitness article. I’ve known Mike for almost 10 years but have only had casual ‘gym conversations’ with him. With a prosthetic leg, I knew he had a story to tell…but, boy, did I ever under-estimate his story…
On June 21, 1976, Mike Doyle was involved in a motorcycle accident and his right leg had to be amputated just above his knee. For the next 8 years, Mike recalls a life of self-pity with little to no ambition of doing much of anything. Thank goodness that his story doesn’t end here – Mike changed his tune and in a huge way. After meeting people that had overcome severe disabilities, Mike started viewing his amputation as a ‘minor setback’ and started along a path where his successes would be an inspiration to thousands or people.
In 1984, Mike became an avid swimmer; started going to night school in the pursuit of 2 degrees in Electrical Engineering and Drafting; all the while still working a full-time job. Swimming became a passion in Mike’s life and he gained a spot on the 1988 (Seoul), 1992 (Barcelona), and 1996 (Atlanta) U.S. Paralympics teams earning a gold, 3 silvers, and 2 bronze medals in various swimming events! He has also swum the 4.4-mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge endurance race for 24 straight years! His journey would take him all over the world and eventually have him cross paths with a Norweigen athlete in 1994 where he first learned about Sled Hockey.
In 1997, Mike participated in the World Cup in Sollefftio, Sweden and again made the U.S. Paralympics team in 1998 (Nagano), but this time for Sled Hockey. By 2002, Mike had helped initiate or re-vamp over 25 programs around the country for Sled Hockey. He has coached numerous youth and adult programs in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and at age 55, he still plays 4-5 times per week against
It’s natural to make excuses for being low on time or motivation to work out. And many times, we convince ourselves so well of these reasons that we feel self-assured that we can’t do any better than what we’re doing right now. Mike says his answer is to “Make the time”!
I was so awe struck by Mike’s life story that I went on a ‘google spree’ and found much more…There were websites of teams and athletic clubs that he’s started, stories of teenagers that he’s inspired, awards, and more. Mike Doyle’s story has had a direct and positive impact on so many people, and he humbly downplays the fact that he’s a hero to so many. In 1984, I doubt Mike knew that by pushing himself to do more that he’d become an inspiration to so many, many people. Makes you think…What can we do? Who will our actions inspire?
Legendary Running Coach:
This afternoon I went to a running seminar with speaker, Dr. Jack Daniels. For those that don’t know – Coach Daniels has been extremely influential in the coaching, art, and science of endurance athletes. As a former Olympian, collegiate and professional coach to dozens of Olympic athletes and National Champions, training innovator, author, scholar and researcher, he has had an enormously successful career in fitness. I came fully prepared to take copious notes on his training secrets and yet the heart of his message was so very intuitive…
He started off the seminar talking about optimism and how important it is to success. How successful athletes take credit for good races (as they should) and brush off bad races to external factors; and how pessimists do the opposite and chalk up good races to luck and bad races to ‘here we go again’. And throughout his talk, he had a common thread of how our “training should be rewarding”. He also gave a lot of personal coaching examples of how his athletes were so individual – some running 200+ miles per week and others running only 30 miles per week…all elite / championship caliber. It helped reaffirm the notion that there’s no one-size-fits-all program out there.
His colorful and very entertaining athlete success stories all had common threads of good diet, consistency in fitness routine, ample sleep, and the increased challenge of workouts. Coach Daniels listed 4 ingredients to a successful program: ability (we are all different); motivation (internal); opportunity (i.e. if you live near the equator, winter sports may not be your thing); and direction (coaching and external influences – positive & negative).
And while he did give the much anticipated math formulas for VDOT, VVO2 Max, threshold training paces, and other information that satisfied my engineer-brain…the message I left with was this: If you want to be your best, work hard, train smart, rest when you need to, and don’t give up. Advice that one could take to the bank whether they be an aspiring Olympian or a contestant on The Biggest Loser.
And I’ll leave you with one of his more entertaining stories from the day…he was coaching in South America a few years ago when one of his athletes was really struggling in a middle-distance track event and trailing the leaders by a few hundred yards. He asked Coach Daniels if he could drop out to which Coach said, “Sure, after you catch the leaders”. The young runner took the next 4 laps to catch the leaders and with less than a lap to go…decided that he should just go ahead and win the race!! Coach Daniels laughed and said the athlete’s shift of focus to something positive (i.e. what I need to do to be done) was really an effective motivator!
Cheers to Coach Daniels for reminding us that optimism and positive thoughts are at the heart of all success. Happy running!
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