Overcoming obstacles – Making the leap to greatness


by Dale Trenholm

March 26, 2014 (ISN) – Do you believe that any athlete you see on the television playing a professional sport, or who won an Olympic medal, had an easy road or didn’t have to overcome obstacles? Of course not! We will never really know all the blood, sweat and tears they had to endure to accomplish their goals.

As a coach these past 15 years, I have had many athletes that have come and gone, and I realized that there were two paths they could travel down to become a great athlete. They could either take the easy path or the path with the most obstacles, roadblocks, and hurdles. 98% of them took the easy path.

One year, I had two athletes the same level that had to prepare for a big race at the end of the season—a race that would test their mind, body and spirit to the max. I gave them each the option of completing one of two different workouts for 3 months. I asked them to let me know, by the end of the day, which one they would choose. They understood that they could choose which workout they wanted to do for 3 months. One athlete chose the moderate workout, and the other chose the challenging workout. In addition, they had the option of following a specific eating plan, but they did not have to follow it if they didn’t want to.

The athlete that chose the moderate workouts went through the workouts and challenges fairly easily and was feeling confident that he would be fine come race day. He went through the 3 races leading up to the big race fairly well. He was feeling confident because he was getting better, enjoying the workouts, and looking forward to the race in 30 days. He wasn’t following the meal plans either, but he was right up there with the group, results wise.

The athlete who chose the challenging workouts—which scared him, made him quit at times, and not be able to finish workouts—pressed on despite being at the same level through the 3 races as the athlete who did the moderate workouts. This athlete however, did get sick before his first race. Weeks later, he gassed out the second race, and 2 weeks later, he quit the third race because he was stressed out he wouldn’t win. He continued to press on despite the mental and physical hurdles and big obstacles he had to overcome. He realized that the meal plans were important so he took these serious now, and he was determined to finish each workout now.

I noticed those next 2 weeks the athlete that was doing the challenging workouts was beginning to surpass the other athlete. This other athlete noticed this and was beginning to get worried. I even told him he could do the challenging workouts instead, but he didn’t want to. He still believed he would be fine.

Well, it was the big race day. There were athletes from around Canada getting ready to race. The athlete doing the moderate workout was getting extremely nervous, and he even started to throw up—he wasn’t feeling so confident at that point. However, the athlete that chose the challenging workouts and was willing to pay the price was like a stallion ready to win a race. He was mentally, physically, and spiritually ready to rock and roll. He knew now that the obstacles that had been placed in his path were part of the preparation. He knew by choosing to overcome the challenges, rather than avoid them, would prepare him for this race. And he won that race!

If you want to be a great athlete, you must realize that there will be a series of challenges and obstacles thrown and put in your way, and you will have to pay a price to be ready for that big race. You don’t need to worry about these obstacles, but rather thank and accept them, because these obstacles are what will carry you to perform in that big race in sport—and in life as well.


Your sports. Your teams. The ISN Daily Digest.

Sign up to the ISN Daily Digest and sit back while we pick the previous day’s best headlines and speed them straight to your inbox every morning.
Email address
First Name*
We abide by all applicable emailing laws including 100% CAN-SPAM/CASL/US CAN-SPAM Act compliance. No spam!