"Be A Decathlete of Life": Track and Field - Beyond Technique Training
Today marks a milestone after years of blood, sweat and tears as Decathlonpedia’s own Reinis Krēgers publishes his first book: Track and Field: Beyond Technique Training - How to Challenge Genetic Potential by Changing the Mindset. While the work to capture the words on paper has been a project undertaken over the last year alongside Reinis’ decathlon training in Prague, the genesis of the book goes back much further, to an 8-year old watching from the other side of the world as Erki Nool, Roman Šebrle and Chris Huffins competed for medals in the decathlon at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
There’s a lot in that introduction, so let’s break it down. The book is aimed primarily at track and field athletes and their coaches, particularly those involved in the sprints, hurdles and field events. It starts from the premise that while technique can take you a long way, in order to really challenge your limitations – whether real or perceived – it’s a change to the mindset that can really make the difference.
The book is structured in three sections: training philosophy and methodology, recovery and performance, and sports psychology lessons that can help change the mindset. From a technical perspective, the core theory is the concept of the “cumulative training effect”, and Reinis guides the reader through the different elements of training, recovery and mindset that can offer a significant contribution towards a cumulative training effect. You can get a flavour of the content of the book in the chapters published already here on Decathlonpedia.
But this is not just a training manual, or a long list of lessons to study. It’s a story that begins with a tale of “rewarding pain”. How a freak accident in the American Midwest, coupled with an Achilles rupture, set the context for a journey that began over a decade earlier, leaping over blackcurrant bushes with makeshift poles in the Latvian countryside, and a journey which continues today in the heart of Europe in the home of the Czech legends of decathlon.
And that is where the book offers lessons that go beyond track and field, to anyone who is in search of inspiration. Those in pursuit of excellence, those dealing with and recovering from setbacks, or simply those seeking a fresh perspective to approach the physical and mental challenges in life will find something to connect to in this book.
“Be a decathlete of life” is the message from Reinis – and that applies both to athletes and coaches seeking to bring their whole self to their sporting journey, and equally to the rest of us who can learn from the decathlon experience to overcome life’s challenges.
So, what led “the only Latvian in Manhattan, Kansas” to write this book?
“My dad was a decathlete in his teenage years, and as we watched the decathlon from the Sydney Olympics in 2000, he told me who the favourites were, and he told me that decathletes are the greatest athletes in the world.”
“That was all that an 8-year-old boy need to hear and from that point on it was clear cut what I was going to do with my life. I started training for the multi-events when I was 12, and while I had some talent, at the time it was nothing that most coaches would consider exceptional. But I owned one very important aspect – the desire to get better in the decathlon. Even though my story in the track and field world is still in progress, I’ve learned some valuable lessons, and I decided that there was no good reason to keep those lessons to myself until I retire from the sport.”
The specific topics covered by Reinis in this book are too numerous to detail here, and they are best enjoyed at leisure, and with a curious mind. But you can expect to encounter lessons on how to deal with information overload, and the difference between knowledge and wisdom. The importance of building a passionate training environment, adapting to less than ideal training conditions, and dealing with the emotions encountered in training and competition. Always being mindful of the “big picture” is a recurring theme, as is the importance of always being clear on your personal “why”. But perhaps the most crucial lesson in this book is the importance of mindset in every experience - in the highs and in the lows; in the encounters with those that believe in you and with those that doubt your potential; and in the triumphs and struggles, on and off the track.
On how he came to realise the importance of mindset, Reinis says “Two months after the hand injury that threatened to end my career as a decathlete, I managed to throw a personal best in the shot put. I had done so while unable to properly use the technique I had been practicing for years. That day I realised something that has guided me ever since – that track and field is much more than just about technique training. And so all the lessons in this book, one way or another, have helped me build a mindset that have allowed me to challenge my own potential, and achieve goals way beyond what I, and others, thought possible for me in my early years as an athlete. I hope that the lessons I’ve learned will help and inspire others who want to be a decathlete of life.”
It’s unusual for such a book to be written by an athlete mid-career, still competing, with much to learn, much to achieve and still with mistakes to make. But that’s the beauty of it. Reinis’ story is real, raw and based on recent experience; it’s a rare opportunity to connect with a journey as it unfolds, and will resonate with anyone competing in track and field, from high school, through college, encountering their first international experience and ultimately training and competing at an elite level, in the company of Olympians.
Track and Field: Beyond Technique Training - How to Challenge Genetic Potential by Changing the Mindset is now available on Amazon
You can contact Reinis here
Photo: Olavi Kaljunen, Trackpic