Lance Armstrong just completed his seventh consecutive victory in the Tour de France, a feat unmatched in the history of cycling. There has always been something superhuman about Lance…scientists say that he is genetically gifted to be the perfect rider.
His body is an extraordinarily efficient machine: his blood lactic acid levels are unbelievably low so his muscles don’t tire easily. His VO2 max (a measure of how efficiently oxygen is delivered to the muscles) is an astounding 85 ml of oxygen/ per kilogram of body weight/ per minute. The average person has a VO2 max of 45 and with training can get it to 60.
Edward Coyle, an exercise physiologist at the University of Texas who studies Armstrong in his human’s performance lab, says his power output is so high, there are probably no more than 20 people on earth with his ability.
Coyle said Lance’s number, however, may not be that different from the other premier racers on the tour. They are all genetically gifted, follow similar training programs, but even if they rode on Armstrong’s Discovery team, with it’s great teamwork, they might not win because physiology alone cannot explain Armstrong’s unparalleled feat. The difference, Coyle says, is the ability to muster the right mind set, “they have to believe they can really do it when it counts.”
Lance Armstrong has always inspired me from the time almost a decade ago, when he was diagnosed with metastatic testicular cancer. With tumors in his lungs and brain, Lance believed that he could move beyond its limitations. He was aggressively treated, but his greatest strength came from within. His mindset was he had the cancer, the cancer didn’t have him. He believed he could beat the odds.
The rest of us may not be as genetically gifted as Lance. When performing at peak power, we may not be able to match his output, but belief is a powerful motivator and booster of the immune response. See beyond your limitations and you actually increase the likelihood you can win.