As an Endurance athlete who races in some rather extreme environments –goal settling is the only way to succeed and overcome adversity. This summer I competed in my first ever Ultra-Distance Triathlon. The Ultraman distance is rather intimidating to anyone who hears about it. The third day of racing is an 84.4 km run, on a backroad that has some nasty hills and difficult footing. This experience was ultimately a success, but not due to lack of adversity.
I have raced multiple Ironman events- but have never run more than 50 km. With some good training in my legs I felt prepared. Using that day as an example- here is a look at my thoughts on how to be successful.
1. Aim High, but know what you are capable of. Set goals that are within reason, but that doesn’t mean they have to be small. I looked at the previous course records on that run and set myself a goal to finish in 7.5 hours. This would not be a record, but was something I felt was obtainable.
2. Scare yourself. If it isn’t a bit scary- it isn’t really a challenge! Don’t take unnecessary risks, but you will rise to a new level when you enter the “unknown.” In fact, experts in the art of “State of Flow” (Similar in part to the runner high” attribute this to being necessary to get the best out
3. Step- by-step. Looking at the “long run” (pun intended” can be daunting to say the least. I got through the first 50 km of the race by changing the story in my head. I routinely run 800’s on the track when I train, and its distance I am very familiar with. So instead of looking at the whole distance, I kept track of how many 840m “sets” I accomplished. This meant every time I checked my pace, I saw how many “One percent’s” I was had done. Just few minutes into the run I had done 3% and it felt like nothing- and my confidence grew and grew…until…..
4. Things go south. Expect it. Sorry, but it isn’t going to be all easy sailing just because you have put in the training. At 60 km I had under estimated my nutrition needs a couple hours earlier, some very hot temperatures. I began getting some pretty bad blisters. In this case, there is only one thing left to do.
5. Readjust your priorities. This doesn’t mean you lower your expectations, but it does me you do your best to stay positive, deal with situations as they come along and address them- in real time- in the best way you are capable! During the race I started to really struggle at the 60km. In order to get to the finish line I had to do something very counter intuitive. I had to stop. In fact I stopped every 3 kilometers for the rest of the run. This allowed for my body heat to drop, gave me the chance to take on valuable nutrients, and left me with new goals. Run 8x 3 km as smooth and strong as possible.
6. Accept Help. These times can get ugly! I know it did for me. In fact my own mom got out of the car during the race and helped pace me for 800 meters at a time. I didn’t want help. I wanted to go it alone. I got grumpy! But in the end the extra help is what kept me in first place! Don’t go it alone if you don’t have to! Feed off of the energy of others!
7. Follow through. When I finally got to the finish line, I didn’t hit my overall run-time goal, but I did win the race and also had a truly exhilarating experience I was proud of! The only thing left to do- was recover and then start with Step 1 all over again.
-Jordan Bryden @jordanbryden