Just as New Year’s is the time for setting resolutions and new goals for the future, it’s also a great time to reflect on our past year’s experiences: our accomplishments and successes, set-backs and frustrations. It also helps us learn how to turn those setbacks into successes! In the spirit of the season, we turned to our Super Ambassadors to find out the biggest lessons they learned while training over the past year. Here’s what they had to say:

Nikki Scott (British Columbia)

  • Rest is best! As a distance runner, it's hard not to schedule up all of my time with long training runs and equally long races. All that time on my feet is essential but so is taking care of myself. Whether it be getting a good night's sleep or taking the time to let my body recover properly between hard efforts, making rest a priority during training is just as important as the runs themselves.
  • Strength isn't just about having strong muscles. Strength training is definitely a big part of running but the strength required to be a great runner isn't just physical. In my longest races, it's mental strength that has allowed me to keep moving even when I've felt like I couldn't take another step. It's amazing how much pain, fatigue and doubt you can get through if you stay focused and dig deep!
  • The journey is as important as the finish line. In running, it's easy to get so hung up on just finishing that you miss everything else along the way. Race day is the main event but it's just one part of the whole journey and I always try to appreciate what I learn from every training run and workout along the way. I get to run in a lot of beautiful places and because I share my running on my blog and through social media, you'll often find me stopping on a run to snap a picture – I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

 Gilmore Junio (Calgary, AB)

  • Think beyond yourself; it is where amazing things can happen.
  • Even in intense situations and environments, never lose sight of the joy in what you do.
  • Be open to everyone and everything. You never know where it will lead you.

Leland Guillemin (Regina, SK)

  • Use loss as motivation. I fractured my leg with two months left in the 2013-2014 fencing season. At the time, I was ranked third in Canada and needed to stay in the top four to qualify for the Pan American Championships and the World Championships. I still competed, but I was unable to hold on to my spot. Missing that opportunity fueled me to rebuild myself as a fencer and use the summer off-season to come back faster, stronger, leaner, and ready to win!
  • Some progress is still progress. Even though I didn’t reach my goal of qualifying for the World Championships, I improved rapidly and that gives me added motivation to continue pushing towards my Olympic goal.
  • Take the time to celebrate and reflect. This is one I have difficulty with. I usually only celebrate large accomplishments, but I’ve come to learn that even the little wins are worth celebrating. For example, being able to completely touch my hands to the floor with straight legs isn’t a National Gold Medal, but it is something I was never able to do before. With determination and discipline I was able to improve my flexibility and this is worth celebrating to me! I also got comfortable with ice baths, and now no longer have to coach myself for 10 minutes before jumping in!

Teague Sherman (Manitoba)

  • Nutrition affects your performance. When I put fast food and junk in my body, I don’t perform my best. However, when I fuel my body with nutrient-rich foods, such as dark green vegetables, brown rice, and chicken, I perform at my highest level.  The first thing into my body after my workouts or games is chocolate milk – every time. This is especially helpful for my hardest workouts on days after games – not only because of the game but because it’s a heavy leg day!
  • Family plays a crucial role – as does having a life outside of football. Family and having a life outside of sports make you really appreciate the blessing of playing a sport you love while getting paid. I leaned heavily on my family and friends this past year to keep me sane and provide a place I could go to truly be myself. For that, I will always love and cherish them.
  • Team chemistry is extremely important. With my second year coming to an end with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, I have learned just how important this is. When a team enjoys each other and believes in one another, they will fight for each other. Because we always believed we were going to win every game and never gave up, we never pointed fingers when things didn't go our way. Instead, we would come together.

We’ll have more lessons to share in the second part of this series. Stay tuned!