(Or tell you how not to PR. #YoureWelcome)
I am talking to myself this morning, and thinking: Make up yer damn mind, Mere!
I am in a state of wishy-washy—not about many things, truly–but for shizzle about one thing.
And that is RACING. I don’t know what is going on with me. I love training for triathlon, most of the time. Swimming (right now), not so much. BUT, in general, yes, I really enjoy tri training. I enjoy the people in the sport. I enjoy talking tri and equipment and nerdy things.
But I am having a hard time putting into words what is going on with my lack of desire to show up for Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga, and most recently–St. Anthony’s Triathlon at the end of April.
SO I am having this conversation with myself on the treadmill this morning, and it went something like this:
Self: Why are you afraid of racing?
Me: I am not afraid of racing. Who said I was afraid of racing?
Self: Why are you afraid of racing?
Me: Um… did you not hear me?
Self: I heard you. Now answer the question.
Okay, so maybe Self was on to something here. What AM I afraid of? I have raced a half-dozen half IRONMANs at this point, four IRONMANs, dozens of triathlons. Sure, I am not as trained in the distances as I would like to be at the moment, but I have been training and doing the work. I did not take the off-season “off.”
SO what the heck is my problem? Isn’t racing supposed to be fun? And something to look forward to?
I had a conversation with an athlete about an upcoming half marathon she was running. She said, “Well, I am not READY for this one. We didn’t prepare well enough for it.”
And I stepped back and looked at her, and her training. And thought, “What the hell is she talking about?”
Then I realized that this whole thing is stuck on the definition of “ready.”
In her mind, because she was not in PR (Personal Record) shape – she wasn’t “ready.” Even though the big goal is down the road – six months away – the half marathon was not even a “C” race.
I said, “You know this is just a fun race. A training day, right?”
And I was suddenly like a two-headed monster.
“Whattttt?” she asked, “I don’t have to PR every race? Isn’t that how I know I am getting better? Isn’t a PR proof that I am improving”
Well, true and false.
Yes, progress is progress, and we can’t argue with progress. But it goes back to YOUR definition of progress. NOT an objective, arbitrary number.
This morning when I was fighting with myself whether to show up to Choo 70.3 in a few months, I thought about this conversation, and I realized why I am afraid.
And it’s not really fear.
It’s this idea that every race needs to “prove” something, or be some sort of improvement. I have never said that out loud, but I think that sentiment is in my head. And that is crazy.
First, it matters what the end game is. The long-term goal.
I have some goals in my five-year racing plan. (Yes, I have a five-year plan. Nerd.)
And this year was always the re-building year. I was stripping back all the BS, working on my strength, nailing my nutrition, run form, bike technique and maybe even the swim. So there was NO PLAN whatsoever to go to Choo 70.3 with a PR intent—because, I have been focusing on other things.
Where your focus goes, your energy flows. – Tony Robbins
And guess what? The areas of focus right now are rocking – as it should be. The racing component? I haven’t focused on it, BUT that doesn’t mean that I should give myself an “out” either. I should acknowledge the goals of the race: that every race affords the opportunity to try something new on race day (Andy Potts!), or to learn about how I race in X conditions, in X shoes, with X power or HR, or whatever.
I am trained and will be fine for Choo, and therefore, I should do it. Discipline before motivation. The “I am afraid” bullsh*t is not on the table anymore.
So I decided today, that come what may and absent a real reason (not excuse – Episode 3), I’ll be toeing the line.
Second, if I make it about a PR, then I should make it an “A” race. Simple.
If I am gunning for a PR, then I should make that race (and training for that particular race) part of the plan and the goal.
If not, then every other race is for: training, fun, satisfaction, camaraderie, or whatever. It’s not for a PR, and for a chance to say “YOU SUCK” when I don’t PR.
Setting reasonable expectations is a key to success. Not excuses, expectations.
Third, if it fits into my training to smash a race, then I will go do it. But I always go back to #1.
Asking myself about the end-game and what the long-term goal is (eye on the prize) is the real gift, and the sustainable measure.
If I am short-sighted in all things, then I am going to constantly be disappointed. By staying focused, one day at a time (in all things), I ensure that I am not only doing the best I can, but also that I am showing myself some serious grace and love along the way.