I want this blog to reach and provide some insight to anyone who might be losing his or her passion for competition. A few things really helped me and might help you shake off the blahs.
A few weeks ago I had the best time in a 70.3 Ironman in a looooong time. It sort of happened by accident, but there were definitely things I planned ahead of time that helped.
My racing career goes back over 20 years so the chapters in my life have changed. I’m not the same guy who would finish work at 7pm and then drive to a spot, park the car and do a 7-mile training run. I’m not the guy anymore that wants to swim masters from 7-8:30pm. I’m pretty wiped out by then these days. All my workouts basically need to happen between 4:30am and 8:30am. What I mean is that I can’t keep doing the things I used to do. This also applies to my excitement for racing: its not cumulative even though part of brain thinks it should be. I hear my brain saying things like: “You’ve done this before, you know how to do it, lets just do more of it now…” Well guess what? ITS NOT WORKING!
Over the past two seasons some of the races have been hard to get up for mentally. I consulted with my coach and she rightly observed, “If your heart isn’t in it, why push yourself?” I agreed because how could I expect a good outcome without desire. Maybe I was getting burned out. It didn’t feel like that because I have always loved training. This was the actual racing that was the problem. It had to be something else; something like….. I wasn’t having fun anymore.
But why? Because I had become too dependent on the outcome of the race. It was starting to feel like a second or third job. My brain started to expect that all that training effort needed to have a specific outcome. And being a geeky numbers kind of guy, I started to think, “My swim needs to be this time, and my bike needs to be this and my run xxxx”. It was making me crazy without even knowing it.
Lisa, my coach suggested I break the pattern by getting the data out of my head by not wearing a watch. That way I could race by feel. “WHOA! That sounds risky,” I remember thinking until I had an Olympic distance race where I went total commando (not watch or bike computer at all). Guess what?! I had a blast and was 2 minutes faster than my best time at that race. Hmmm, that was a good way to get my attention.
So this year I tried the same strategy. I had to miss two early season races because of a bike crash concussion so it all came down to this final race last week. I went in without a watch, on a new course and had to trust my training. The goal was to just have fun.
And I did. It was the best race I had in years! Without being a slave to my “boss” (the watch) I got to enjoy the entire race and didn’t know my finish time till I crossed the line. And afterward I was immediately excited enough to want to keep racing unlike some years where I feel so burned out it takes a few weeks to re-invigorate myself.
This race was a real epiphany for me. The enjoyment has been building ever since the race and I’m totally happy with the outcome. There were of course were other factors contributing to the total experience (thanks Jason and Zane) but I truly think the lack of pressure without using a watch was a huge key to re-inventing my passion. So, if you’re a little cooked, or lost your zeal, try changing a few things like losing the watch. It’s such a simple thing, but so easy to do.
Thanks for reading!