Tuesday, July 19, 2005

How does Lance Armstrong do it?

There's a name for this behavior:
'He pays attention to every last detail that contributes to the pursuit of excellence. That's what sets him apart,' believes Dave Brailsford, the performance director at British Cycling. 'He is always looking to make a tiny improvement to his nutrition, his position on the bike, or the science of how he trains.'

Thus he avoids ice cream, in case it causes indigestion, or carbonated water, lest it induce diarrhoea, or chocolate mousse - excessive sweating - and does not shave his legs the night before racing, in case the minimal energy required to regrow the hair makes a difference. (Emphasis added.)
Who knew that a champion cyclist risks defeat if he shaves his legs before a race? The author skims past this observation. He dwells more on Mr. Armstrong's experience with testicular cancer:
...Armstrong is a survivor. 'Although the Tour is excruciatingly painful, for Lance it is still not as tough a battle as when he overcame testicular cancer,' explains Doyle. 'That means that he is mentally strong, very driven and has a lot higher pain threshold than the other guys because he's beaten a life-threatening disease. He can suffer that bit more.'

Cancer gave Armstrong the worst times of his life. Hearing he had a 60 per chance of dying. Having surgery to remove one testis. Chemotherapy to fight tumours that had spread to his lungs and brain. Five months in hospital as he defied doctors' expectations. But illness was also the making of him.

'In a strange way cancer did him a huge favour,' says Daniel Coyle, author of the recent biography Lance Armstrong: Tour de Force . 'It removed 15lbs of muscle and resculpted his body into the leaner shape. Before then he had been too big and too muscular, especially in the upper body. And it gave him the discipline that, allied to his talent, turned him into the sporting phenomenon he is today...
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