Updated: Jan 25, 2020
With the somewhat recent explosion of 70.3 events (and 140.6 events) fueled by IRONMAN and their "Anything is Possible" statement, the fear of long course racing has been mitigated and many folks have realized the truth in that statement. That growth has been fantastic for the sport and has helped develop a whole new crop of triathletes, which in my mind is always a good thing!
One of the downsides I've observed is that athletes will sometimes end up putting the cart before the horse, so to speak. That means signing up for and committing to these races without first focusing on the habits that make it possible. Paying $700 to register is in no way sufficient to prepare you for the day you've committed to 4 -12 months ahead!
Long course racing is physically challenging, and in almost all cases it requires the development of time management, nutritional, recovery, and stress relief strategies. The initial commitment to race often gives athletes a burst of enthusiasm and desire to make the training happen. But inevitably, life happens, sessions get missed and momentum fades. Without the development (preferably prior to signing up for your race) and implementation of habits, missed training quickly snowballs, life takes over and training becomes an additional life stress. Athletes lose faith in their training. And any semblance of structured training fades away. This creates a less than enjoyable race day experience, and often a "one and done" outcome.
Instead of focusing on the race itself, athletes should create the needed habits to effectively embed themselves in the endurance lifestyle, relieve stress, and create longevity in the sport. In addition, this is what makes happy athletes on race day!
When creating goals, picking races, and committing to things that you know will have specific requirements, contemplate habits you'll need to be successful. Here are a just a few of many questions you can ask yourself.
What are your specific goals?
How important are they to you?
Do you believe you have the habits to reach them?
If not, can you implement the strategies to achieve them? (from https://www.essentiallifeskills.net/develop-good-habits.html)
Identify the habits needed.
Make the decision, and then the commitment, to change.
Discover your triggers and obstacles.
Devise a plan
Employ visualization and affirmations
Enlist support from family and friends
Being motivated is absolutely essential to developing habits, so be honest with yourself and recognize what your true motivation is. If you don't have the motivation, you won't develop the habits. Reevaluate the goal and make sure your motivation matches them.
Life is not predictable, time is not endless and priorities can change rapidly! Creating habits will allow you to more successfully adapt as you move toward your goals.