As both the transition season and the holidays wind down and the new training season starts to ramp up, I invite you to consider an initial piece of advice that will lead to a more balanced life and more rewarding training season: Watch your AIM in 2018. AIM thinking and decision making can be a helpful approach in limited application and is sometimes even unavoidable, but when it starts to be “the” life filter for the training season, AIM thinking can lead to a cascade of emotional, relational and physical drain.
What is AIM? It stands for After IRONMAN. You know what I mean: “After IRONMAN I will [fill in the blank].” There are a lot of things that we pass through this filter of deciding what we need to do and what can wait until...well...after IRONMAN.
This past year I was guilty of this mode of decision making, made worse by a bad early race that led to me reloading a full training load. This led to my list of AIMs becoming, like Marley's chains in A Christmas Carol, ponderous in length. By the time I got to “after IRONMAN” in Florida in November, I was not only fatigued from training and racing but also mentally and emotionally drained from a long list of “to-dos.” I also had the sense of having let friends and family down by simply not being truly “present” enough in their lives. My laser-like focus on a redemption race took my AIMing to new and, in some cases, reckless places.
For most of us, a limited amount of AIM thinking is fine. There are things that we need to hold off on during the season. Roofing your house, unless your profession is roofing, is probably something that should wait until after the race season. Going to the latest big movie with your son is probably something you should carve out time for. Cutting down that annoying oak tree on the perimeter of the yard, unless you are a professional logger, is something that you might want to let wait, especially if a chainsaw is involved. Trading an hour of training for holding your significant other's hand on a long walk at dusk is most likely a good trade. Helping a friend move all of their furniture from one house to another is a bit a coin toss. How much do you “really” like them?
The main point of this advice is to really consider what is truly AIM-worthy and what is truly more pressing. In fact, you might even need to consider if your likely competitive nature is leading you to say “delayed yeses” to things you might just need to say immediate “noes” to. Often it is not just the really important things in our lives to which we say, “Yes, but after IRONMAN.” Sometimes it is our likely flawed view that we actually can do all those things, and sometimes it is simply an easy out to avoid what might really be a necessary no. In these cases we compound the damaging impact of too much AIM thinking, which in itself compounds the negative impact of those important life moments delayed and sometimes lost, to a default “After IRONMAN” response.
If “After IRONMAN” has become your default in-season response to almost everything, it might just be time to reevaluate what you value. So watch your AIM in 2018. Seek a greater balance in family, friends, career, etc. and 2018 may just be your true PR year.