Yale Bulletin and Calendar

April 14, 2006|Volume 34, Number 26















Trainer describes biker Lance
Armstrong's winning ways

In 1998, when Lance Armstrong was still recovering from cancer, he met with his personal trainer Chris Carmichael in a French café, where the two talked about the cyclist's future.

Carmichael had supported Armstrong through his cancer treatment and his shaky return to professional cycling (Armstrong had quit the Paris-Nice race after his comeback). That day, in the café, the trainer asked the cyclist what he wanted to do.

"He said, very quietly, 'I want to win the Tour de France,'" recalled Carmichael of the now-seven-time Tour de France winner.

Carmichael, whose April 15 talk was sponsored by Calhoun College and the Morgado Family Fund Fellowship, told a nearly packed audience in Linsly-Chittenden Hall that Armstrong was too afraid to voice out loud his dream of winning what is, arguably, the world's most grueling sports competition. But Carmichael forced the cyclist to repeat himself in a louder voice.

Having "an authentic goal," albeit one that "you struggle to say," is one of six key elements to being a champion, said Carmichael in his talk, which was attended by members of Yale's cycling team and other students, cycling enthusiasts and members of the New Haven community.

In his talk on "The Champion Within," Carmichael used Armstrong as an example of the quintessential champion, but said that all people can harness within themselves the same qualities possessed by the world-renowned cyclist to achieve personal success as athletes or in their career, educational or other pursuits. He showed video footage of Armstrong in various Tour de France races to illustrate the qualities that make Armstrong a champion.

The five other essential elements of being a champion, Carmichael stated, are having confidence as a result of preparation; building a team stronger than yourself; knowing that "great risks accompany great achievements"; acting on the premise that "leaders lead"; and living by the credo that "honor is non-negotiable."

While Armstrong's competitors would love to be able to replicate his physiological "data" to achieve the cyclist's reputation as the best in the world, Carmichael commented, "Lance's strength doesn't come physically; it comes from mastering the champion within."

Carmichael, a former professional cyclist and U.S. Olympics coach who has trained some of the world's best cyclists, emphasized that preparation has been critical to Armstrong's success in his sport.

"When Lance was battling cancer, he had to give 100% to fight the disease," Carmichael said. "He has used this model for when he had cancer and applied it to cycling by committing 100%."

He acknowledged that the first man ever to win six consecutive Tour de France races is "demanding," saying that while perfecting his technique, Armstrong also continually made improvements to his cycling equipment. Every second gained by such improvements, said Carmichael, was extremely valuable in the races won by Armstrong, who retired from the sport after his seventh Tour de France win in 2005.

The ability to put forth 100% effort is rare in athletes, Carmichael commented. Most athletes, he contended, will devote only 99% of themselves to achieving their goal so that they can credit their losses to not having given their all.

"I've never seen [Lance's ability to commit 100%] duplicated by any athlete I've ever worked with before," Carmichael told his audience.

"I tell my athletes 'Race to win!' Olympic medals don't fall from the sky. ... It's the same thing in business. Starting a company is scary. ... The only way you'll get a great return is to take that great risk," said the trainer, who confided that he was apprehensive when he decided in 2000 to form his own company, Carmichael Training Systems. He has since written three books, "Carmichael's Fitness Cookbook," the New York Times bestseller "Chris Carmichael's Food for Fitness: Eat Right to Train Right" and "The Ultimate Ride." He is the co-author, with Armstrong, of "The Lance Armstrong Performance Program."

Noting that "honor is your pseudo armor," Carmichael showed a video clip of Armstrong in the 2003 Tour de France, when he fell during the last mountain stage of the race. Only 15 seconds ahead of his main rival, Jan Ullrich, Armstrong recovered and beat Ullrich to the top by 46 seconds.

After that stage of the race, Carmichael asked Armstrong what went through his mind when he landed on the pavement.

"Lance was thinking about one thing," recalled Carmichael. "He was thinking that he couldn't go to the dinner table without the yellow jersey -- that he couldn't face the team" if he didn't continue putting all of his energy into winning the stage.

"Honor is the foundation of my coaching philosophy and is how my athletes live," he concluded.

-- By Susan Gonzalez


It's Official. President of China to speak April 21

As HHMI Professor, Strobel will take students 'bioprospecting'

Scientists find gene linked to drug dependence

Program puts FOCUS on communication

Joan Steitz, Thomas Pollard win prestigious international prize spirit

Renowned poet W.S. Merwin to read from and discuss his work

A heroine's determination prevails in 'All's Well That Ends Well'

Event will examine how to preserve access to knowledge

Performances and workshops will explore 'theatrical bodies' . . .

Symposium on human rights will focus on memorializing atrocities

Talk, exhibit explore lessons learned from past flu outbreaks

SOM conference will examine globalization and technology

India's road to independence is topic of film, panel discussion

Dwight Hall fundraiser to include inaugural social justice award

Symposium to look at 'Success with Learning Differences'

Impact of bird-borne infections on wildlife conservation is topic of forum

Panel discussion will focus on 'Class, Race and Inequality in South Africa'

Trainer describes biker Lance Armstrong's winning ways

Tsunami Awareness Week raised funds and refocused humanitarian efforts

Campus Notes

Wangari Maathai lecture cancelled

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