By Team ICG® Master Trainer Jim Karanas

“Heroes are made by the paths they choose, not the powers (with which) they are graced.” ”• Brodi Ashton

It”™s hard not to admire the Tour de France riders, or to watch the commercial for the Olympics and Paralympics with challenged athletes alongside able-bodied athletes, without feeling that elite-level athletes are special. They”™ve been gifted with physical abilities that never showed up in my gene pool and have the opportunity to create beauty in competition and sport that I”™ll never experience.

Even when I think rationally about what many of them have had to overcome or sacrifice to be where they are, I still feel they”™re unique and a cut (or two) above me as an athlete.  They are my heroes.

Be Your Own Hero® is a registered trademark of ICG®.  We registered it because we were inspired by the overwhelming odds some people have overcome through self-belief, drive and determination.  To us, the brand represents empowerment.

ICG believes, however, that it”™s important to Be Your Own Hero even if you”™re not faced with overwhelming odds.  You don”™t have to be in dire circumstances to benefit from it.  Becoming your own hero is a way of liberating yourself and raising your quality of life.  When you choose to see yourself as a hero, you wake up and look forward to discovering what excitement the day can bring.

When you”™re conflicted, all you have to do is ask yourself, “What would a hero do?”

As a hero, you”™d trust yourself.  You”™d see yourself through the rough times and emerge stronger.  You”™d do the right thing.

Let”™s say you wake up in the morning and feel really sluggish. Your body aches, whether from training, overtraining, or age.  You ask yourself, “What would a hero do?”  A hero would get up and face the training for the day, even though he/she didn”™t want to and would like nothing more than to turn off the alarm and go back to sleep.

One of my favorite cycling legends is John Howard.  Born in 1947, Howard was a three-time U.S. Olympic cyclist and the winner of 14 USA national cycling championships.  He won the gold medal in the 1971 Pan American Games road-cycling race in Colombia, was a four-time U.S. National Road Cycling champion, and won the 1981 Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Hawaii.

Howard was one of only four competitors in the first Race Across America (RAAM), originally organized in 1982 by John Marino and called The Great American Bike Race.  In 1985, Howard set a land-speed record of 152.2 miles per hour (245 km/h) while motor-pacing (behind a truck) on a pedal bicycle on Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats.

After all of that, John Howard now teaches indoor cycling in the San Diego area.  About doing what you and I do every day, he says, “For me, indoor cycling is no longer a poor substitute for the open roads and trails, (but) an indispensable ingredient for penetrating deeply into the inner world of body/mind integration (and) exploring the deepest power patterns of cycling technique.  (I)ndoor cycling can actually bring benefits attainable in no other way.”

In DIRT!, the book he wrote from his hospital bed in 1997 after a disabling crash, Howard denounced the Olympics as being about nothing more than medals, with no heart nor soul.  He said he had more respect for the amateur athletes and fitness enthusiasts who get out of bed every day to face their own training than for any top-level athlete blessed with ability.

At ICG, we believe that being a hero involves treating each day as an adventure, having enthusiasm about the day and what you”™re going to do with it.  As Howard”™s quotation above shows, a hero brings a hero”™s sensibility to everything he or she does.  Self-belief is key.

I haven”™t missed watching the Tour de France in over a decade.  Lance is still one of my greatest heroes.  I love the Olympics.  Having heroes inspires me.

But I also believe in myself and put on my Spiderman suit every day.  I teach what I love, teach it with passion, and hope it improves someone”™s day.

Be Your Own Hero.  What would that look like for you?

Jim Karanas
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