In fact, it was the conversation that led to this blog post. Like many of us, The Mayor went through a period of time where he really wasn't enjoying the whole fitness thing and he had been struggling to keep up with the running and riding. Much like myself, he has been doing this for a long time.
After more than 20 years of racing I can assure you that if you are not having fun it is impossible to stay motivated to train and race. Here's what I've done over the years to keep my training mojo:
1. I Don't Take Myself So SeriousYes, getting "better" and going faster is important to many of us. I would be lying if I told you I didn't care when I blew up those 20 or 30 times. But unless you are a professional athlete you are training/racing for the pleasure of it all. Sure, you may tell yourself that it's about getting a Kona slot or a Boston Qualifying time ... but really it's not. Or at least it shouldn't be. I enjoy the competition against myself and others. Truth be told, you race on Sunday and on Monday you are back at work and nobody cares what happened at your local 10k the day before.
2. I Race the Races I Want to RaceIf you want to do an Ironman, do an Ironman. If you decide you are happy racing Olympic and Sprint distance races, that's fine too. What is important is racing for yourself, not because you feel pressure to do a race or a specific distance. When I started racing triathlons I took a bunch of slack from a training partner who is a damn good runner. He couldn't understand why I would even think about Swim/Bike/Run when you could skip the first two and just run. It's his thing and he is damn good at it. Me? I really like riding bike. I also really like the challenge of triathlon. Needless to say I do pure running races, but haven't even thought about giving up triathlon.
|Firecracker 4 Miler, July 4, 2014|
3. I Race and Train With FriendsCan you get more work done - more specific work done - when you are training alone? Yes. Can a group ride turn into an unsanctioned race? Sure can. Does that mean you should do all your training alone? No. No. No. No. No.
Training with others might not be the "best" thing you can do for any specific goal you may have but it sure is fun. When you train with others it isn't all about you. Sometimes you will run too hard or lose some training time because someone punctured their rear tire. It happens. There are also times on the Wednesday night ride that you pull the boys for 8 minutes, nobody will come through to take a pull, then you have to lay the hammer down the rest of the ride. Or maybe that's just me ...
Anyway, what you lose in specificity you more than make up in smiles - be they a result of an easy day in the saddle or mutual suffering through a hard workout. And racing with friends gives you camaraderie while (hopefully) killin' it on race day along with people to share the experience with.
Also, if you train and race alone, who would you grab a post-training/race meal with?
|What a fine looking group, no?|
4. I Also Train AloneAs awesome as it is training in a group, there are times you just need to be alone. I do a lot of my training in the early hours of the day when few people are out on the road. From time to time I have a training partner with me but for the most part I'm out there alone. That time alone on the roads is some of the most pleasurable time I have while training. If I have a specific workout scheduled it gives me the ability to do the work I want to get done without worry of what someone else is doing. This past year I stopped riding with the Sunday morning group when I hit my race prep period for Ironman Florida. I always enjoy the rides with this great group, but I needed to be alone to get specific long rides.
5. I Enjoy the ProcessYes, there is always "that guy" who seemingly gets up off the couch on race day and manages to get to the finish line. I'm not that guy. Doing my best on race day means actually training for the race. Being truly prepared takes time and effort. You build fitness, gain strength, then do the specific training for your event. It's a process. No matter what happens on race day you I enjoy the journey.
6. Help Other With Their Training GoalsWhen I trained for my first Ironman in 2006 my training partner Low-Jack (of Jack & Jon's Saturday Morning Run fame) would call me every Friday afternoon and asked me what I needed to do on Saturday morning. Come Saturday morning we would do the work that I needed to do. There were a lot of running miles we put in on the roads and trails around Bethlehem together that year and I was truly grateful. Over the years I have payed this forward with a variety of people.
Heck, the run with The Mayor I referenced at the beginning is just that - helping a bud get to the start line. For 2015 a part of my motivation is to be out there helping friends get ready for their big races. I already know that I will be spending some quality time running and biking with some great people in support of their goals (Trust me Barb, there will be an epic bike day for you and I in the near future).
At the end of the day it is important to remember why we do this. Think back to the early days of your journey, when you completed that first 5k or time trial or swim meet. I bet you had a big smile on your face when you crossed that finish line. That smile came from reaching a goal, but it also was a result of your enjoyment of the sport.
If for some reason you have lost the joy that comes from all things endurance, I hope this helps sparks some ideas on how you can get it back.
Train hard. Stay focused.