There a few words in the English and American languages that shouldn’t exist and I will write a little about each one I can think of as the mood hits. I will start with the word Perfect. Perfect in a mathmatical sense – a number equal to the sum of its positive divisors, e.g., the number 6, whose divisors (1, 2, 3) also add up to 6 – is fine with me, because that can’t be argued, it is what it is. Most people however use the word in ways that I find unproductive.
The term perfectionist is not someone (as the definition suggests) who refuses to accept any standard short of perfection. But someone who has to have things the way they want them. Just plain annoying if you ask me, and hardly perfection. Perfection in this sense is ridiculous, it is completely subjective. And how can something supposably perfect have any subjective aspect to it?
How does this apply to training and racing? Well, there is no such thing as perfect preparation or perfect race, or perfect strategy. Physically speaking you create a program and follow it the best you can, stick as close to it as possible while listening to your body to make the appropriate adjustments along the way. Emotionally you prepare yourself for all the contingencies you can think of and go forward knowing there is always something (or many things) you’ll have to adapt to as you go.
For some this may not sound so great. For others this is what is so interesting about training and racing. It’s a puzzle. There is no one sure way to achieve your goals. There isn’t only one path to get you there.
As a coach and athlete I find the puzzle fascinating. We are all so similar and yet so very different. There is no perfect, so don’t strive for it. Strive for improvement. Strive to get better. Do a better job, listening, reacting, working, resting, communicating, managing your efforts, and thoughts.
Wouldn’t that be great if we could do that? You might even say it would be perfect!