I have a good friend and swim coach, Dee Loose, that disciplines his swimmers when they use the word “can’t.” Say this four letter word and you better be prepared to hit the deck for a round of pushups or an intense series of sculling. He’s even gone so far as to have swim caps printed with this nasty little word crossed out in red.
I never really thought much about why the emphasis – why it is that Dee has banished this word from the psyche of my swimming friends. That is, until I started to prepare to run the Moab 100 in the 12 hour solo division. A triathlete by training I’ve never trained for anything beyond an olympic distance race (1400 meter swim, 40k bike and 10k run). In 12 hours the goal is to hit 50 miles. That is more than 8 x the distance I’ve ever competed at running. I really didn’t know if I could go 12 long hours running to hit 50. Was I intimidated. Absolutely.
How do you even train let alone compete for such a distance? What is the strategy for attacking the course, managing nutrition, emotions and will to finish? In getting ready for my first ultra marathon I wondered if I actually “could” do it. Well, I didn’t hit my goal of 50 miles in 12. I ended up getting capped out at 48.36 miles at the 11 hour mark – the point for me as I thought about Dee’s forbidden word is that had I thought from the beginning that “I can’t” do it I never would have even tried. Just from trying I was able to accomplish more, discovered, and experienced more than I would have with the thought of can’t. Dee – thanks for teaching me about this four letter word. From trying and continuing to try we eventually arrive to “can.”
Contributed by: GOALØ’s Chris Meek