I think a lot of athletes nowadays are afraid to fail.
This is one of the reasons why they often use the excuse of "I just want to have fun" to justify their lack of focusing, their races where they "had a bad day" and their multi-distance/multi-disciplinary plans: "I want to race an Ironman, a SUP race, a tough mudder, a 6hr endurance MTB and win the National Road bike and time trial races this year".
Having fun is paramount and trying out different sports and distances is definitely a lot of fun. However, a lot of these athletes that "just want to have fun" are highly competitive. Despite being highly competitive though, they fail to undertake the risk of focusing on one sport and one discipline because deep inside them, they do not want to commit, they do not want to put the real work in and they are afraid to fail.
Don't get me wrong. Focusing on one goal does not necessarily prohibit you from trying other sports. What I am talking about here is one goal that should focus on performance. For example, one may focus on an Ironman distance triathlon and find out that they need to improve their running. Marathon running, trail running, endurance adventure racing etc. may be an excellent off-season focus for them. Others may need to improve their swimming. Endurance open water races, paddle-board workouts or even rowing could be a great off-season training to serve that purpose. Another athlete may want to try ultra-running. Incorporating long hikes or long endurance cycling rides and other low-impact long-hour activities may aid their preparations.
During these 3 years, every year presented its own challenge: in training, in my personal and professional life or in racing itself. Despite all adversities, I never gave up on my goal.
This year, I faced two big challenges: Around two and a half months before the big race, I went through a prolonged 5wk period of extreme fatigue (Epstein-Barr Virus) and my training took a big deep right when I should be piling miles and intensity. Then, I was able to resume training in the last 6 weeks but on race day, I got sick and battled with severe headaches on the bike and persistent diarrhea on the run (which went on for two more days after the race).
Despite all that, I am happy to say that I was faster than last year and ran a personal best of 2hrs 47min for the 30km run portion (in a triathlon race). Although the transition times this year were a lot slower than last year (each by nearly 4min, mainly due to the long run distances we were forced to cover), and although I failed to race less than 8hrs (which was my first goal), I was still able to succeed on my second goal, clock a better time than last year and finish in the top20.
Times over the past three years:
- 9hrs 49min 12sec (2016)
- 8hrs 16min 33sec (2017)
- 8hrs 08min 47sec (2018)
And the journey continues ... I am not the fastest out there, more like the middle of the pack at the World Championships level, but I am not afraid to get after my goal, work hard for it, get faster every year and enjoy competing with some really fast women.
Don't be afraid to set a goal and go after it. You may face difficulties, injuries, sicknesses, bad luck at the race or other adversities but at the end nothing beats the feeling of coming out strong and succeeding your goal!
Stay strong! See you out there!