A New Challenge – Do You Need One?
When growing up, if one of my buddies ever said something like, “Hey, bet you can’t hit that sign with that rock!” Of course, you know what I did. Picked up that rock and gave it a hurl! Why? I was challenged. A high percentage of multi-sport athletes like, if not love, a challenge. It’s got to be one of the top three reasons someone trains for and attempts their first triathlon. Just simply, the challenge.
As a runner back in the 80s, this new sport of triathlon intrigued me. It challenged me. It’s almost like it was talking. “You want some of this?? Come and get it! Bet you can’t swim, bike and run to the finish.” So, of course, I had to give it a go. I side-stroked the swim and rode a borrowed friend’s bike. The run went great cause I was a runner. I did it! I finished. And, I was hooked on the challenge! Your story probably isn’t that much different than mine is.
Whether it’s your first race, first season, whether it’s moving from sprint to Olympic, Olympic to 70.3, or 70.3 to IM, there’s always a new challenge. New challenges are essential because they’re so motivating. For me, it pretty much followed that very progression. “OK, I did THAT distance…can I go farther?” I followed that line of thinking right up through several Ironman races. Then, I dropped back down to short course racing for the last 15 yrs. I did the same with a running progression. I started with a 5K, 10K, 13.1, 26.2, then a 50-mile ultra. Each held a new and special challenge for me.
Keep the “challenge factor” fresh. Try something new next season. Go longer. Do a duathlon. Jump into a bike race. Do a swim meet. Try an obstacle course race. Do a running race longer than you’ve ever done. Though I mostly race triathlons, I’ve done all of those competitions and they were fuel to keep the training and racing fire hot.
You may have found the triathlon distance at which you’re the best. Great. Camp out there and see if you can get faster and faster. I did and camped out for a lot of years. Now, I’m ready for a new challenge…or in my case, going back to an old challenge. The last time I raced beyond the Olympic distance was at Ironman Arizona in 2005. The last time I ran over 10 miles was when I finished the marathon in that race.
New Challenge = New Motivation
I’ve trained and raced hard at short-course races. I’ve reached goals I never thought possible when I started. But…the challenge, well, shrank. So now, I’m going to try to move back up to longer course racing and have signed up for two 70.3 in 2020. I’ve got physical challenges at my age that I’m going to have to figure out and overcome, but I feel alive and motivated! I’ve laid out a basic strategy and training plan. The new challenge brings fresh inspiration.
What’s your 2020 challenge? What goals are you coming up with that will keep you going during some dark, cold winter months. What are you envisioning? What are you dreaming of? Lock on to a new challenge. Write it out and put it on your fridge and on your bathroom mirror. Keep it in front of you. If you’d like help dreaming, planning, strategizing and/or laying out a plan, give me shout. I’d love to help.
In closing, I think of my friend Heather Gollnick. She moved up the triathlon ladder and turned pro, eventually winning five Ironman races. Then, as she hit her 40s, she needed a new challenge, so she took up obstacle course racing – OCR. She loved the fresh challenge and having to learn new skills. She excelled at it too. She’s one of the best Masters OCR athletes out there. Yes, she still does triathlons from time to time, but she found a challenge that kept the fire burning hot!
Find that challenge and motivation will not be a problem!