With the arrival of the other Willis family (Steve, Caro, Bella, Sari and Phoebe) in mid April things have really been picking up here in Ann Arbor. We are realizing more and more that every day is an important step toward London. With only 76 days to go, there’s something about having this goal finally in sight that is making us all take extra measures to be ready. Sure, there’s always a race or a championship to work towards in this job, but there’s something about an Olympic Games that gets you that much more excited—that much more motivated.
But with all this motivation we also know that too much excitement can be a bad thing. I hope we’re not naïve enough to think we’re the only ones feeling the buzz of the fast-approaching Olympic Games. In an Olympic year, everyone is motivated. While that motivation is usually a good thing, sometimes it can also have detrimental effects on an athlete’s training.
The biggest challenge for a professional track athlete is discovering just how far to push in training—without pushing too far over the line and ending up injured or over trained. One of the benefits to working with the same coach for ten years is that Nick and Ron have had years to articulate exactly where that line is for Nick. We have confidence in what has worked for Nick in the past and we’re not going to get carried away trying to force things too soon. We’re not letting the pressure of The Games cause us to expect bigger, better or faster workouts every week. Sure, the temptation to do “extraordinary” training is there—it is, after all, an extraordinary year. But sometimes the harder thing to do is to hold yourself back a little; to trust that the plan you’ve set in place is wisest path to follow.
I don’t think we’ve got all the secrets to perfect training, and what works for one athlete may not necessarily work for another. But we believe this is what works best for Nick. Who knows what will happen over the next 3 months? But for now, we’re committed to sticking to the plan Nick and his coaches have set in place. Nick’s had an amazing stretch of consistent, injury-free training the last couple months. In some ways it almost seems too good to be true. Having battled injuries in past years, we feel overwhelmed and thankful to God every day for that gift. All of us who make up Team Willis are doing everything in our power to keep things that way, which of course includes praying for a little bit of divine help in the matter too.