One of my biggest motivators is having an event in front of me to train for. Having foregone this for the last six months I could really feel myself losing motivation and “just running/riding/etc.” These types of workout doldrums are dangerous for me. My motivation to do as well as I can in an event also drives the other choices I make about fitness. Things like eating right, backing off the beer and sodas, etc. all seem much easier to do when I’ve got that event to train for. I also tend to get hurt more because I mentally “check out” since I have nothing to focus on.
I know it seems a little silly to want to get my whole schedule up in front of me so early in the season but I do it for a couple of reasons. First, my work schedule is ever changing and if I don’t get my events on the schedule NOW I will get scheduled for travel that conflicts with those dates. I might not be working ON an event date but traveling to or from where I teach can be up to a 5 hour drive sometimes so you can see the problems. Also, even though I may not do all of these events or may add events later that I forgot about or just found out about, I am very much motivated by the “now and later” way of thinking. Some of the events I am doing are just fun, local events and some are “destination” events that some people would make the feature event of their year. But having an event to train for AND something to look at down the road keeps my motivation level consistent and I don’t get the post race blues as bad. If I have months between races or don’t have anything on the radar after a race, I lose focus and interest. So by loading up my schedule early I get fired up.
I am adding another level this year by doing team events. I have always liked team sports and played baseball for 16 years so team triathlons and adventure races are a natural fit for me. But these events also add an extra level for me in that they put peer pressure on me. I need to be as ready as I can because there are teammates depending on me to do my job and be in shape. I’m really looking forward to these events and would like to do at least a couple of them a year from now on.
Finally, changing from a pure road triathlon schedule to adding trail races and offroad stuff is about the best thing I could have done for my training. It does so much to make you better. I know this sounds crazy but the biggest thing it does is make you SLOW DOWN. Oh, it’s not EASIER by any means, in fact it’s harder. But you have to be so focused on a trail run or mountain bike ride that it makes you better. Constantly thinking about balance (bike or run), foot placement, technique. So many things that you just turn off in the “aero and go” world of triathlon are always on your mind when you go off road. Oh… and don’t think you can enjoy the scenery either. On most runs and rides I am VAGUELY aware of my surroundings but my world is 2-200 feet in front of me. If I take my eyes off of it, it tends to want to hit me… hard. Pain is an excellent motivator. I don’t like it, so I pay attention… which is the best way to avoid it.
This time of year is hard. My mountain bike still has last ride’s mud on it… from 2 weeks ago. It’s dark, cold and snowy and, for me, the bike trainer is simply a necessary evil to get me through the next month. Same with the treadmill (although I have successfully avoided it so far this winter). But it’s already better than last year. I’m excited. I don’t have to go LOOOOOONNNNNNNGGGEEEERRRRRR… just faster. Harder. I’m all over that…! Let’s get dirty…