October 7, 2010

Reality Check

When signing up for a race, we all have some performance expectations.  Our goals can be general in nature, like improving overall fitness, or specific performance goals, such as winning your age group.  Based on your goals you set up your plan, and put it in gear.  Yet the challenge for most of us is that life happens and training is often compromised.  When this occurs, it’s smart to take a hard look at where you are now relative to your goals and adjust accordingly.  The process is simple.  The answers may not be so easy to swallow though.

Start by sitting down with your training log, a calendar, and a list of the things outside of training that need to be done between now and race day.  With your race goals in hand, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Considering what I’ve done so far and how much time remains until race day what will my training schedule need to look like to achieve my goals?
  2. What else do I have to accomplish besides training?  Is it possible to train at the required level and still get everything done?
  3. If the answer to question #2 is yes (or maybe), am I physically and mentally prepared to do what is necessary to achieve this goal?

If the gap between what is necessary and what you’re willing to do is too great then it’s time to dial down your expectations to a manageable level.

With eight weeks to go until IMAZ I needed to evaluate the chances of achieving my key goal, which was moving from finishing in the top 20% to the top 10% of my age group.  The bottom line was that I needed to double my training for the next six weeks to have any chance of achieving this goal!  Was this even possible?  Yes.  Could I still get everything else done in conjunction with this level of training?  Hmmm… that would be a stretch.  But it was question #3 that was the key:  am I willing to train 20-25 hours/week for the next six weeks and not let the other areas of my life slip?  The honest answer to that question was easy.  No.

Having competed in 13 Ironman races, including IMAZ last year, I believe I know what it takes to make the jump from finishing in the top 20% of my age group to the top 10%.  After reviewing what was lying ahead of me to make this happen, it was crystal clear that pulling out was the best… albeit very painful… decision to make.

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