Saturday, 22 September 2012

The four pillars of ultimate performance

1.       Motivation,

2.       Mental strength,

3.       Physical conditioning, and,

4.       Energy and nutrient timing.

How many athletes blog about these fundamentals?

Sure there are lots of interesting ones; those that inspire and many which cause me to laugh/smile/take note. At the moment though, I’m just frustrated.

I’ve been looking for answers since I started blogging but found the number of elite athletes engaging fully with their followers to be disappointing. As a consequence, I’m no-where near as active as I used to be; only reading blog’s to catch up with interesting individuals and for a bit of entertainment whilst eating lunch.

To my knowledge no-one affords each of the above points an equal footing when blogging.

Having said that, I can think of one good reason why not; we are all unique. This is the very reason that aspiring athletes must find what works for them and then extrapolate to fulfil their potential. Being cynical, I suggest that others hold knowledge as highly prized and are therefore unwilling to share their ‘secrets’ with perceived ‘competition’.


…and without going into my own motivation (just yet), I’m of the strong belief that we each have a very short time frame within which to achieve the things we want to. Life might seem like an endless merry-go-round of fun and frolics to some but I’m acutely aware that it really is not.

Until someone is willing to share absolutely everything they have come to learn about the four pillars of ultimate performance then committed non-elite’s (like me) face the prospect of endless setbacks halting their ability to perform at anything like the ability they are capable of.

Therefore, over the course of the next 6 months I’m going to make it my blogging mission to define and explain the four pillars of ultimate performance. For now though;


This is top of my list because without it a person has no inclination to go beyond their comfort zone and this is what must be done if one is to achieve anything. Achievements are subjective; it’s in tandem with ‘one person’s rubbish is another person’s treasure’. They are based on human perceptions and almost always involve a struggle. It doesn’t matter what level you perceive yourself to be at, you need motivation to attain, sustain and move on from that level.

We’re not looking at elite athletes here, we’re only concerned with being the very best that we can be. You may be born with it or be taught it; someone or something may inspire you; a life changing event may be the root cause of it. However, if you don’t have it and whenever motivation wanes, failure and fatigue soon follow.   

Mental strength

Although closely linked, I feel this warrants separation from motivation. The two compliment one another very well but I believe one can be worked on whereas the other is slightly more innate. Mental strength is especially critical for ultra runners.

For example, I know of many people who perform far better than me over short distances; get them out for an ultra and many of them unexpectedly wilt. Clearly, there are a lot of variables to consider but when I have entered the same ultra over-trained, injured and then consequently suffer with sickness and diarrhea I’m left to conclude that the reason I have crossed the finish line before them is because I have worked on my mental strength and they have not.  

Physical conditioning

Anyone reading this should at least have half an idea of what this involves. But do we really? I’ve made mistake after mistake with this over the last 4 years. I’d like to call myself a runner now but the truth is I have not yet had a single performance which I am content with.

For this very reason I’ve hired the help of a coach. I’ll discuss this topic at great length in subsequent posts.

Energy and nutrient timing

Gone are the days of simply eating healthy. Relatively, there are far more elite athletes competing today than there have ever been. The stakes have risen beyond the stratosphere, so much so that energy and nutrient timing is seen as ‘their’ level.

Nutrition is the last bastion of elite athletes. But we are not elite, we just want to be the very best that we can be. Thus it is my intention to share these incredible insights with everyone.

In summary

I’m willing to bet that in addition to a committed few, a collection of very experienced runners will have read this post and had a metaphorical light switched on. This is the key for all of us.

As a slight side issue, I know of some who pass of the information of others as their own in a distasteful attempt at self promotion (think facebook). To dispel any notion of this I will ensure (as always) that credit is given where its due.

So (aside from being as good a husband and father as I can be) it is my ambition to be able to help others achieve their aims whilst concurrently seeking to be the very best ultra runner that I can be. The next 6 months will chart my progress throughout which I will blog explicitly about the four pillars of ultimate performance.



  1. Interesting stuff Dale, I'm looking forward to following the next few months.

  2. Sounds great. Looking forward to reading that.