I shook my head in commiseration with the myriad of downcast, salt-stained, walking triathletes at the recent Boulder Ironman 70.3.
It was only 90 degrees—pretty warm by Colorado standards but not as hot as the carnage might suggest.
As I took it all in a lot of thoughts and feelings ran through my mind. Sadness was chief among them. I was not sad because it was “hot” on race day. The reality was that it wasn’t. I was sad because at least 30% of the field—500 athletes—were not prepared.
Showing up at the starting line for a “Half-Ironman” means you’ve spent hundreds of hours in training and preparation, thousands, perhaps even tens of thousands, of dollars on gear and travel. Racing a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike, and a 13.1 mile run takes real training. You can’t fake it through 70.3 miles. So why was 30% of the field walking at the beginning of their 13.1 mile run? Certainly, just a couple weeks prior virtually all of these athletes ran this distance easily. The answer: lack of preparation.
It was day 3 of 6 in the 150-mile Marathon Des Sables running race through the Sahara Desert. I was in the middle of a gigantic salt flat, like a frog in a pot—the temp was 117 in April and I’d already run 20 miles. I felt good. I had come from Colorado and done all my training in the snowy winter…
It was 1:30 p.m. in the middle of Death Valley in July and I’d already run 50ish miles (only 85 more miles to go!). It was 121 degrees—my crew was tense and really hot, but I was comfortable and felt good. I’d done all my training in the cool Colorado mountains…
It was 2:00 p.m. at mile 130 of 142 on the 3rdand final day of a 520-mile bike race in Southern Utah in August. My crew let me know it was 111 degrees and I needed to push hard to the finish line if I was going to break the course record. The heat radiating from the newly repaved (and very black) asphalt through (ironically) named Snow Canyon felt so hot I was certain my tires would blow just miles from the finish, but I was comfortable and hammering along…
Don’t get me wrong— I don’t like competing in the heat. In fact, it sucks. I actually chose to race Badwater across Death Valley because it combined the two elements I dreaded most, running on pavement and running in the heat, and I wanted to challenge those demons head on for 135 miles on an asphalt baking sheet.
My point of this blog is this: in all three of these extreme examples I comprehensively prepared myself…unlike a lot like of the triathletes in the Boulder 70.3 Ironman who only trained. The difference, and it’s a big one, is that comprehensive preparation is about being fully prepared for what you know will happen, and more importantly, what could happen. Such as? A flat. A dropped water bottle. Forgotten goggles. A hot day. Had those 500 or so athletes simply anticipated the likelihood of a warm day (a likely event in August) and spent just a few hours a week for a few weeks in a heat acclimation program I venture an educated guess their results would have been significantly better.
One of the biggest advantages of bringing a Coach into your training, especially with AYS and my comprehensive perspective and background in heat, altitude and extreme distance, is you have an expert in your corner looking at all these variables for you. A great coach pays attention to the critical details of your daily training as well as the comprehensive “Big Picture” and “What Ifs.” This gives you peace of mind, which frees you up to spend your limited and precious time focused on your training.
If you are ready to take your performance to a new level and have a comprehensive performance plan—versus a workout template—with an expert on your team looking at the details and the big picture let’s connect. I am ready. Are you?
Coach Morgan Murri
Amaze Your Self Coaching