Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Fast Track by Suzy Favor-Hamilton
Suzy Favor-Hamilton is a female Olympic runner and motivational speaker; she is arguably the best middle-distance runner in the entire United States. However, one of her most defining moments as a person in my opinion occurred during one of her Olympic races. She was expected to win the race with little difficulty; but unfortunately, she dropped out with only a very short distance left to go. After she had finished, she attributed her inability to finish to the fact that she simply was not ready. However, she later confessed that the actual reason behind her collapsing and dropping out of the race was that as soon as she slipped from first place to second to third to not even medaling, she simply could not handle the defeat and the fact that she was expected to win and had failed to do so. She told people that the reason that possessed her to do such a thing was due to all of the stress that was building up in her personal life, and the expectation to win only added to that stress. I think this is truly remarkable for her to come clean like this; not many people would be willing to tell the truth in this situation, so it says a lot about her character. Her motive for writing this book was that she wanted to share training and nutrition secrets of her own that have allowed her to become so successful in her career in order to help young female runners improve in their own careers, regardless of their level or ability. This book is targeted to female runners, but I think it has many valuable lessons that can be applied to both men and woman in various sports. Suzy won eleven state titles in high school and was named one of the top 100 high school athletes of the century. Additionally, she became the most decorated female collegiate athlete at the University of Wisconsin which is where she attended college. Here she won nine NCAA championships and four Big Ten Athlete of the Year Awards which are now referred to as the Suzy Favor awards in her honor. Furthermore, she is a three-time Olympian and holds seven U.S. National Championships. She still runs today in Wisconsin where she lives with her family. She wrote this book as she was preparing herself for the 2004 Summer Olympics; she worked with a man named Jose Antonio, Ph.D., an exercise and sports nutrition scientist, who helped Suzy write this book. The book is divided into various sections, all of which target a specific aspect of the sport ranging from nutrition to advice for the actual race day. She talks about varying the severity of work outs and when it is important to rest so as to prevent overtraining which she accredits to being a common source of injuries. Suzy also talks about the positives of cross training which she is a firm believer in; cross training is training an athlete does that it is outside of the norm of their sport in order to target other muscles that are not used as frequently in his or her primary sport. For instance, two great examples of cross training for runners is swimming and bicycling; both relieve stress on the joints of a runner that are often overworked. Also, she talks about the positives and negatives in relation to strength training, stretching and various other non-running related exercises. She talks about her own life experiences both on and off the track in order to persuade young runners from making the same mistakes she made, mistakes that are typical of young runners. Suzy goes on to talk about the benefits of her specialized diet plan and the reasons why a good diet is so crucial for runners. Suzy’s experiences of competing at the highest, most prestigious level of sports in addition to Jose Antonio’s immense amount of knowledge regarding exercise and nutrition science allow for this book to truly reach out to both the highly competitive and leisurely runner while providing valuable lessons that can virtually be applied to any sport.
1) If you were in Suzy’s position during the Olympic race where she dropped out, what do you think you would have done? If virtually everyone in the world was expecting you to win, how would you have handled that pressure when you knew you were not going to win? Would you have confessed as she did?
2) Suzy is obviously a very successful runner, yet she is possibly one of the nicest, most down to earth people you will ever meet (I had the chance to meet with her). Why do you think this is? Most exceptionally successful athletes are often very cocky and full of themselves. Why is she so willing to share all of her secrets regarding nutrition and running?
3)Do you think this book would help you at all? Do you think it’s important that even for those who are not runners or not involved in sports to be familiar with this type of lifestyle and the hardships that come with being so passionate about something like a sport? Is there a universal message relating to work ethic, etc?