I hope everyone is safely enjoying their training journey and maintaining strong spirits despite the continued drop of races through much of the world. This week, I want to focus attention on the place of multisport in life, beyond the fun challenge of competition and training for events.
Races and events are important in the journey of both endurance athletes and fitness enthusiasts. They create a natural framework to set up training, are important to heighten accountability to yourself and your training, and acts as a natural roadmap of each yearly cycle. By training ‘for something’, we get to benefit from three valuable components of embracing a performance lifestyle:
- A sense of accomplishment.
- Competition -- both against yourself as well as your peers.
- A shared experience -- or community.
These are fundamental, and will nearly always outstrip just training for training’s sake. This is at the heart of why it is so frustrating to see races disappear one at a time, piece by piece. It feels like our direction evaporates. Despite this, it isn’t all doom and gloom.
Let’s come up a level and think about the performance journey globally, we find something just as important, if not more important. Your whole journey of training, including all the performance habits we consistently discuss, should act as the backbone of you being equipped to thrive in daily life. Racing or not, committing to structured and progressive training, accompanied with positive habits, allow:
- A ‘tent peg’ of structure in a chaotic life
- A backbone of resilience and health to help you thrive in other life aspects
- A host of lessons and tools that can be applied to so many life situations, making you more adaptable and able to navigate adversity
- A platform of health and energy to boost performance as a parent, leader, worker, and friend.
I would argue that to be effective -- at anything -- the performance journey is the very backbone of your success. Random always provides random results and amplifies the already existing chaos.
When a storm blows through the campground, you don’t go around the tent and remove all the pegs out of the ground.
While the reality of evaporating races is frustrating, this isn’t a time to despair or give up on the process. It is simply time to shift the lens and evolve the approach to suit the times. If we return to our three benefits -- competition, accomplishment, community -- we can collectively create this ourselves. Let’s do it! This is why we are plotting a series of challenges and virtual races over the coming months to act as our compass, direct, and framework to achieve. We will drive toward something short-term, to enable our individual and collective success long-term. We will all do it -- and I think it can be fresh, fun, and different.
I believe we can also shift our lens on the approach to training. We will have more flex to try new things (Gravel Riding anyone? Adventure Trail Runs? Mountain Biking?), while also retaining adequate specificity in the plan to allow progressing and the performance journey to retain integrity. In fact, here is an important last consideration:
When in the heart of ramping toward a key race, training will take up a high cognitive load. It is physically stressful to prepare, but it is equally emotionally challenging. This is great, for the reward, but in these times we have a chance to drive specificity and have fun, with a much lower cognitive load associated with training. You have permission to have fun and improve while -- using the performance journey as a great balance and escape from the undeniable stresses of our time.
As we march into this week -- I tell you this. Let’s stop feeling sorry for ourselves, it isn’t good for us or anyone else. Instead, let's reconnect with our relationship with sport and start carving our own new reality.
It is no longer a quest to emerge stronger. Why wait. It is time to BE STRONGER.