The Art of the BeHAG

In the world of endurance sports, setting goals is something that is done as the year goes through. We alter, add to, remove (rarely), races and events as we progress through the training year. Most of us set goals that are both realistic and obtainable, at least at current fitness levels, but then there are many of us that like to set goals just out of reach in order to push us harder, higher, faster than we have been in the past.

I am in the latter category.

The past two years have been severely disappointing for me as far as racing and goals are concerned. I have found my mindset has reverted back to year one. The thought of a triathlon now scares me … especially the swim … but what is more disappointing is that what I feared may happen once the first DNF appeared on my results page has begun to happen …

I am becoming increasingly more comfortable accepting the DNF … and it is not a good thing.

This is not to say that the races I have pulled out of, most recently Disney Wine and Dine last Sunday, were not for valid reasons. There is an end game in play here and not injuring myself further is a valid goal, but I was thinking about this on my drive home that night … how just two years ago the idea of inuring myself further was not a part of the equation. I raced a 70.3 triathlon in Ocala in 2014 with a severely strained Achilles and finished the race. Yes, that 70.3 was almost 10 hours in length, but not once did I consider pulling out of it, injury be damned. Yet, here I am now pulling out of races almost on a regular basis.

A lot of things have changed in this time frame for sure. I train alone for the most part, maybe getting a team or partner training in once on the weekend. Most triathletes train alone. I have read articles that specifically recommend training alone for mental toughness, but part of what I enjoyed about this sports, and all the sports, was the team and partner aspect. Since losing that I have progressively regressed to 2010 standards.

This is not the fault of anyone but myself. It is my own weakness of mind and resolve. I cannot make people want to train with me, or through the force of pure willpower make more time available for others to actually train. It’s on me to accept the situation as it is and find a way through it.

I recently accepted an invitation to attempt a 100 mile, 48-hour, trail run in Vermont in May 2017 (the Endurance Society’s Infinitus). My coach asked me not to share this on the show or on social media because she was afraid of the negative talk becoming part of the conversation. I explained that talking about it would help me focus, start to own the run, and push me towards it, so I did being it up on the show and on Facebook. I have to say the negative remarks were rare, and I have the sneaky suspicion some were more out of jealousy than actually thinking I cannot do it. Some were out of concern for my training ability with other events close to that date, though I suspect other things are at play there as well, but 99% of the comments were positive, so I will continue to talk about the race, the training, the highs and the lows.

It’s what I always called a BeHAG. A Big Hairy Audacious Goal. This is now my BeHAG for 2017.

LTG and STG

It is a long-term goal for sure, though it is 7 months away. A Long Term Goal (LTG) is what we see in the future; an image of where we want to end up. In this case, crossing the 100 mile mark in under 48 hours. Short Term Goals (STG) are the building posts and signposts that get you to that point. So what are the STG’s?

  • Steady weight loss
  • Building walking speed
  • Building cardio
  • Removing limiting thoughts and people
  • Back to back training days
  • Nutrition
  • Meditation and Mindfulness
  • Slowly increase workout lengths in both miles and in time
  • Sleep
  • Laugh

These are not in order by any means. That was what we call a brain dump; just typing the first things that come to mind.

Motivation

It all comes down to motivation, and finding that trick, that spark, that will get you out the door regardless of any weather, training partner, etc. holding it up. So what are some tricks/tips to do this?

  • Find a time of day for workouts where you are most likely to do them. Unfortunately mine is usually midday while I am at work. Before work is too early for me, and afterwards I am usually just too beat and tired. This is where it was helpful when Jennifer was in Tampa, because even though I was beat after work I liked seeing and hanging with her, so it motivated me out the door and to the location.
  • That also brings up the second point, to engage a friend. you’re more likely to show up for a training if someone else is depending on you to be there.
  • Another trick is to be prepared at all times for training. You may leave for work with no thought about having time for a session, but then the power goes out and they let everyone go early, but there you are now, with the time to do it but no gear on hand. Always have shoes, shorts, shirt, hat, swim trunks etc in your car ready to go just in case. It’s hard for cycling because carrying your bike every day might not be feasible, but running and hitting the pool or beach may be.
  • Here’s one that Randy has mentioned on the show a few times … get through the first five minutes. Sometimes there is a good reason to skip a session. Fatigue. Hunger. Injury. But there are times that it’s just not there mentally. Committing to starting, lacing up the shoes, getting on the trainer, etc. is enough to propel you further. I have a had a few sessions where I felt like I could not do the time or distance, but once I started I ended up doing more than the plan. And we ALL know, you feel so much better after a workout than before, even if it was a hard one.

So there are my thoughts for today. I am going to try to write more, I know I have been slack. Maybe I need to apply some of those tips to my writing as well??

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