“If you dedicate yourself, anything is truly possible.”
Apolo Anton Ohno is well known for winning eight medals at the Winter Olympics. He is also the twelve-time holder of the men’s national speed skating title, and he is one of the rare Olympic athletes to reveal many of his training secrets.
Apolo was 16 attending his first Olympics in 2002, holding the edge weighing less than most of his competitors with more strength in his legs. By the summer of 2010 he realized he would be one of the oldest competitors and the heaviest, even though his lean body weight held only 10% fat, which is considered low.
Seeking a new edge over the younger lighter skaters, he went in search of a trainer who could make him stronger, and also cut his weight down. Everywhere he turned he was told this was impossible, until he met John, who said, “Let’s make the impossible possible. You want something to happen, let’s make it happen.” And they did.
John began by telling Apolo, “Understand one thing. Your mind has total control over your body. What you want to get out of your body starts with your mind.”
John typed up a page of affirmations for Apolo, and posted them all over his house. This is an excerpt:
THE POWER OF POSITIVE THOUGHT AND ATTITUDE
THOUGHT = IF YOU BELIEVE IT, IT WILL HAPPEN
ATTITUDE = POSITIVE ATTITUDE WILL ALLOW YOU TO PERFORM MAXIMALLY, BOTH PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY.
NEGATIVE THOUGHTS = WILL DESTROY ALL DREAMS
NEGATIVE ATTITUDE = WILL RESTRICT PERFORMANCE, BOTH PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY
MENTAL CONDITIONING IS KEY TO YOUR PHYSICAL SUCCESS
YOU WILL BLOCK ALL NEGATIVE THOUGHT
YOU WILL REPLACE ALL NEGATIVE AT ONCE WITH POSITIVE THOUGHT AND ATTITUDE
YOU WILL VISUALIZE SUCCESS EVERY NIGHT THROUGH THE GAMES
YOU ARE THE BEST IN THE WORLD
MENTAL WILL DO ONE OF TWO THINGS: HELP YOU OVERCOME OR DEFEAT YOU
Apolo’s workouts started at 5:30 – 6:00 a.m. every day, after eating a tiny protein breakfast. Mid way between his four hours of morning skating he consumed a tiny protein snack, then a tiny protein lunch; maybe a small piece of salmon wrapped in seaweed. Then he did a ninety minute workout in the gym. This may consist of 12 miles at full speed on the treadmill, for example. Then a tiny snack of fiber mix, then back to the rink, and another egg along with vitamins and minerals. Then skating from three to five. At five he would eat another egg snack. Then he would do either weights, a jump workout or a run. Then mostly a bit of salmon for dinner with either butter or coconut oil. Between 7-8 p.m. he took an extremely hot sauna to detoxify and drop weight. Then one final protein snack and off to bed.
His first day of training he started a one legged squat with 275 pounds. Within four weeks he was pushing 415 pounds. On the leg press he started at 500 pounds on one leg, and worked up to 800 pounds within a few weeks.
Ohno describes the training as excruciating. Some days he thought he would pass out from hunger or black out while riding the bike for lack of energy. After a short period of doing explosive workouts, Ohno was able to leg press 1,980 pounds. That is just twenty less than a ton. Already stronger and thinner, he was burning anywhere from 6000 – 7000 calories a day in workouts, and consuming maybe a quarter of that. He was a very lean and powerful machine.
There were days when Ohno would tell his trainer, “I can’t do it,” and his trainer would say, “Yes, you can,” and continue to push him.
Every night before he fell asleep he would ask himself, “Have I done everything in my power to be the best I can be?” Then he would review the day with determination to do better the next day.
By the time the games opened, Ohno was down to 145 pounds. He had lost 20 pounds and brought his body fat count down to 2 %. He was healthier, faster and stronger than ever. When he entered the arena before competition his very presence put fear into his competitors, looking like a completely new person. His training paid off, and yet again he stepped up to the podium to collect his medal.
You may have heard of Apolo Ohno from the show, Dancing With The Stars. His show aired in 2007, at which time he was also training and competing at skating. He had never done any formal dancing in his life. He would train and compete for his speed skating all day, then sneak out of his hotel room to practice dancing with his partner because his coach did not want the show to interfere with his skating. Before he agreed to enter the show, he promised himself that if he was going to enter, he HAD TO WIN. He did win, not only the dance title, but the hearts of many fans, and an opening to a career in Hollywood.
Do your very best, and live each day with no regrets.
A FUN ASIDE. The day after writing this post on March 9th, 2012, I stopped by Whole Foods in Brentwood, California after a hike. Perusing a row of organic veggies who did I find standing right beside me? Apolo Ohno. I told him about the post and he thanked me and said he was going right home to read it. What we focus on really does appear in our lives.
Reference: Zero Regrets, Apolo Ohno
March, 2012 ~ Ehsida