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From The Desk Of Clarence Bass

If You Think You Can..............

"Youíre the only person I know over 55 who actually believes [he] can improve Ė and you show the doubters itís possible," my friend Dick Winett wrote in a recent email.  I responded, "If you donít think you can, you wonít."

In my last rowing update (article 88 above), I promised to let you know if I try to improve my time again and move up in the Concept 2 World Rankings for indoor rowing. Iíd just made a new personal record for the 500 meter row (1:39.2) and was in a shaky 3rd place, only 0.1 second ahead of Malcolm Fawcett of the UK who beat me by a full second last year (1:38.6 compared to my 1:39.6). "I wonít try it unless thereís a reasonable chance of success," I wrote. In other words, Iíll try only if I think I can do it. "Failure breeds failure, and thatís never a good plan," I added.

After working for almost three months and improving my interval times, the odds seemed in my favor. So I went for it on Sunday, April 27, three days before the close of the 2003 season.

I thought I could, and I did.

I rowed 500 meters in 1:38.4, widening my lead over Fawcett to 0.9 seconds and bettering his 2002 time by 0.2. Unfortunately Ė or fortunately, depending on oneís point of view -- an Aussie by the name of Terry Harris weighed in with 1:37.9, keeping me in 4th place for lightweights. Thatís okay, because I improved my 2002 time by more than a second and moved up one place in the final 2003 rankings for lightweights. I also moved  from 17 to 14 for all weight classes, leap-frogging people who outweigh me by up to 65 pounds. 

I worked hard and made significant improvement. That makes me a winner. In competition, it really is about the individual. The only competitor that really counts is you -- and you donít have to win to be a winner.

Actually, Iím grateful to Terry Harris for giving me a realistic target to shoot for next season. Iím already having fun planning my training strategy for the 2004 rankings.

Donít bet against me, because I believe Iíll be better next year.

What about you? Do you think you can improve year after year? The odds are far better than you may have been led to believe.

A revolution is taking place in our understanding of the aging process; see The Competitive Edge (article 26C above). Many are coming to believe that almost all the decline attributed to aging is, in fact, due to sedentary, unhealthy living. People who continue to train at a competitive level can usually improve. Whatís more, the will to win makes for a longer, more robust life. Thatís why I always train to improve.


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