• Mark Turner

IPAs and Levis: The Costs and Benefits of Not Choosing Randomness

Updated: Aug 18

In my refrigerator sit these three very tasty and lonely IPAs. They have been there since January when I returned from a doctor's visit. At the appointment I once again saw that big number on the doctor’s scale that I swore I would never see again.

I recently attended a webinar with fellow IRONMAN U Certified Coaches and delivered by IRONMAN University Master Coach Matt Dixon.


As part of his presentation, Coach Matt spoke about how we might meet the challenges of remaining motivated to train during these difficult times. He also discussed how we as coaches can help our athletes we work for to remain motivated.


Coach Matt argued that there is still great need for setting goals, even as our races are cancelled one by one. Otherwise, he argued, we will all drift into a kind of “randomness.”


AHA! It hit me! What led me back to that big number on the scale was my own loss of focus. I had indeed drifted into randomness. My life had become so filled with unavoidable stuff--some good and some bad--that I lost my focus, and the first thing to go by the wayside was training, and that was followed by easy and unhealthy choices.


After that January doctor appointment, I was determined to return to training with diligence, even though I had not yet signed up for a race in 2020 (this was before COVID-19). I wanted my health and my own joy in training to be my real focus, not an event.


I set a goal to return to cycling strength. I rode almost every day. Then I started walking increasing distances until my weight got back to a place I considered safe to begin slowly returning to running. My focus was on my health and a return to a fit weight. I set as my tangible goal a return to my Levis.


The payoff came when I was once again able to wear my jeans without busting at the seams.

I even wrote a little song to celebrate (cautiously sung, and with sincere apologies to Simon and Garfunkel, to The Sound of Silence):

Hello Levis my old friend

I’ve come to wear you once again

I lost my way for a short while

But now I look at you and smile

Now the vision that I would wear you once again

Can remain

In my stack of pants


As it turns out, I was walking away from randomness and toward intentionality. That has served me well during this season.


If you are seeing signs of drifting into randomness in your own life and training, I urge you to take stock, refocus, rekindle that passion you have for endurance sports.


Races will be cancelled. That is not within our control. What is within our control is the decision to remain focused on the main thing. And the main thing is you, not the race. By definition endurance athletes train more than we race. That’s what makes us endurance athletes. You do not need a race to affirm your status as an athlete.


Is there a cost to saying an emphatic no to randomness and instead developing new goals and doing the hard work of staying focused until races start coming back online? Yes. It will require dedication and discipline. It will require sacrifice at a time when we feel like we have already sacrificed so much.


It might mean that the IPAs need to stay in the fridge. But the benefit is the health, personal value, and renewed life focus that you will have. The benefit is the motivation to continue to train and seek performance fitness without a race as the prize, but instead yourself as the reward.


It might even get you back in that pair of jeans that have been getting a little too snug.


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