Mother MAY I?

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Mother MAY I?

So, the month of May is here. I’m old enough to have been part of a neighborhood “gang” growing up. We were just friends, not a real gang. We’d play backyard games like, “Red rover, red rover, send __ right over.” Some kid would run full blast into the locked arms of the opposite team on the other end of the yard, trying to break their grip.

We played a number of those kinds of games, one of which was called, “Mother MAY I?” I remember absolutely nothing about that game other than we were seeking permission for something. I’ve had to have that conversation recently with my Training Plan, Race Schedule, Body and Work Schedule for this season. “May I _?”

Over the winter, I had come up with a great race schedule and training plan for 2023. After three years of focusing on, training for and racing 70.3’s and having done zero of them in 2020 due to Covid. I did four in ’21 and three more last season, getting three seconds, two thirds, a sixth and a nineth and I’d set my sights on winning at Oregon 70.3 this July. However, stuff happened this winter/spring. Enough stuff that I had to have that talk and ask not “Mother may I,” but, “Training schedule, may I? Body, may I? Vocational workload, may I?”

May I what??
The question was: “May I scrape my plan and goals for this season? May I downgrade everything? Brain and emotions, are you OK with the feeling of disappointment?”

After careful evaluation, they all said, “Yes.” What changed? Why downgrade? Isn’t 70.3 your favorite distance?

Here are some things that can cause you to re-write, adjust, change, downgrade, etc., the plan you came up with several months ago:

  1. Work. 99.9% of those reading this are amateurs. We work. We have jobs. Some work 40-hour weeks, some 50, some 60 and some, well, at times it’s almost all-consuming. Work takes not only actual hours but mental and emotional output. Evening workouts were often scrapped because I was just too tired.
  2. Travel. At times, #1 includes travel and even international travel which, I find very tiring. I’ve been to El Salvador, Kenya, Cuba and Colombia in the last six months plus a driving trip to Alabama and back. While I LOVE my job, it’s taxing and travel magnifies that. It’s a massive interruption to training, normal rest, etc.
  3. Family. In this case it IS kind of, “Mother may I,” because mom, who is 92, has had some health issues, and time in the hospital and a rehab center has taken time. It’s time well invested, and mom is worth every second, but it was not in the plan a few months back.
  4. Inner motivation. It’s strange because I was really looking forward to killing it last year when I aged up to 65 and this year when I’m still “young” for the age group at 66. But after three years of locked-in-focus, I found motivation something that was strangely scarce. I’ve gained a few extra pounds and looked hard for the “want-to” to lose them but alas, motivation was playing hide-n-seek with me.
  5. Weather. If you’ve read these blogs before, you know I’m an outdoor guy. Training outside, especially the bike, is therapeutic for me. It refreshes my mind, body and spirit. Grinding in the basement, not so much. This Spring has been cold, very windy and rainy. And, much of the time when it was nice, I was involved with #1, #2 or #3 above it seemed.
  6. Injuries. Yep, there’s that nasty word we all hate. I’m dealing with one but getting over it. Injuries are always a training/racing adjustment issue.

Any one of these by itself wouldn’t cause me to let go of my hoped-for goal of winning my age group in a 70.3 Ironman, but when all combined, well, there’s just no way.

So, now what? No Oregon 70.3. No favorite distance this season. No exploring a new venue and beautiful course. No super-fast, down-river swim. No shaded 13.1 mile run. OK, Plan B it is. USA Triathlon recently announced that several National Championship races are coming to Omaha next June. Cool. In checking that schedule, I found that I can race two National Championship events, which are both short!

There’s the Draft-legal Sprint Tri and the Super Sprint, two days apart. But that calls for a totally different training program than 70.3’s. So, this year we’re heading back to sprints. Maybe an Olympic or two, but mostly sprints which, based on 30 years of results, is my best distance where I’m most competitive. Sprints hurt for a little over an hour but that last hour of running in a 70.3 is also incredibly painful so pick your poison. Mine is going to be red-lined, short-term pain vs. fourth to fifth hour of racing pain, but, as we all know, pain can’t be avoided in this sport.

It’s May and it reminded me of the game Mother MAY I? The very question I had to ask myself was to be OK pulling this major shift just before the season starts, but so be it. Can you do the same IF needed? Can you pull a switcheroo at any point in the year and still feel fulfilled? Sometimes, life dictates that answer. Yes, you can and YES, you MAY. Adjust things as needed, and go have fun!

Lincoln Murdoch
Lincoln Murdoch
As an accomplished endurance athlete, Lincoln has been competing in running events for 40 years and racing in triathlons for 25 years. He is a 3x USAT National Champion, 14x USAT All-American and 3x ITU World Championships Top-Ten finisher. Lincoln is passionate about helping athletes meet their goals through books, online resources, coaching and motivational speaking. You can learn more at
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