If you are itching to extend your race distance, make sure you leave plenty of time
Just finished your first sprint distance tri and fancy stepping it up a level? Do you have serious FOMO that your mates are doing an Ironman when you’ve just ticked of your first Olympic? Feeling the pull of an ultra marathon after your first on road marathon success?
One of the natural challenges in taking on a new sport, is that pushing your boundaries, and exploring your edges, becomes part of that adrenaline filled package. While your body may feel physically like it’s been hit by a truck, the confidence rush on finishing races, leads to a massive increase in self belief, and ignites a new determination that we need something bigger and more challenging for our next quest.
While it’s great to feel indestructible after crossing the finish line, this can lead to excitedly clicking the “ENTER HERE’ button on your next event before you have fully thought it through.
The key to success in anything you do, is building up experience and mastery in your chosen field. Researching the kind of races you want to do is crucial to a better understanding of what lays ahead. You need to find your strengths, and learn to play to them, while working on improving your weaknesses. Are you the kind of athlete that needs a technically challenging course to keep your brain engaged. Do you find you have a natural talent for climbing hills, but not the speed for flatter races. Are you better suited to closed water triathlon swims, than taking on the surf and unpredictability of the ocean. All of your weaknesses begin to show themselves when you have race experience under your belt, then you can learn to work on these areas to improve your all round ability, and become a more complete athlete.
It takes time for your body to adapt to any new sport. Give it time to adjust building one step at a time, one distance at a time. Become a master of the 5km run before your move up to confidently smashing 10km races. Your marathon will happen once you have learnt to pace, fuel, and mentally master the half marathon. Spend a season at each of your tri distance, honing your technique, finding our what equipment, nutrition and kit works for you. Once you’ve have allowed your body time to adapt physically and mentally to your sport, you will find your ability to push your boundaries, remain injury free, and rise to the challenge, grows and you will be able to take on just about anything you set your mind to.
Learn all you can about the training commitments expected for your chosen distance. If your life is busy with children, a partner who doesn’t share your new sporting hobby, and a full time 50hour a week job that takes you interstate, then maybe an 18hour a week Ironman training schedule is what you need to be doing… this year. Look at the races in the reverse, how much time do I have to give, what do I want to achieve in this race, what life commitments do I have outside of training and work, and then choose the distance that best suits your time. You deserve to get the best out of your races, by being smarter about how you train.
Post race blues sets in at different times for different people. For some it can the day after as you pick apart your race, and try to analyse what you would of done differently (despite a great result!). Others have the post race blues set in a few weeks after, when they try to pick up training again, by then the next race is usually entered. Going to hard, to soon after a race is the number one killer of future races. Your body has a natural built in protection programme, and will lower both your mood and energy levels to stop you from causing yourself damage. Giving yourself time to recovery both physically and mentally from races, is very important before your enter your next race.
If you are carrying any, and we mean ANY sort of injury or niggle following your training and racing, then you should not step up your distance. Your body is clearly sending you signals that it is not ready to train again, let alone add in more hours. What ever your pain, NAIL IT and quickly. Do you rehab and then when the pain goes, do your PREHAB! This means treating your body as if it the injury is still there. Complete your specific strength work, do those boring stretches that your physio gave you, just because you are no longer in pain, doesn’t mean you have fixed the biomechanical issue that caused the injury in the first place. Pain equals dis-ease in the body, ignore it at your peril.
Training and competing are hugely satisfying. Increasingly challenge yourself on all levels, carries an rewarding addictiveness that only other people in the same sport can understand. Continue to strive to step outside of your comfort zone, find your edge and dare to go beyond… just don’t rush a good thing.
Sarah Anne Evans is the head coach for Karmea, her endurance has ruminated and grown over the years, like a fine wine 🙂 Her triathlon career began with her first sprint distance in 2004, her first Ironman took place in 2011. Running has always been a passion from track and field as a teenager, to her first 50km ultra marathon in 2013 and her first 100km in 2015. As you can see, she likes to give things time, and is thankful that her body allows her to do so without complaint! Learn more about Sarah Anne and her philosophy in her profile.