If you race long enough, you will certainly meet up with the dreaded DNF. (Did Not Finish) It’s the 800 pound elephant in the room, that no one wants to talk about. DNFing can cause a range of emotions from embarrassment to being just plain pissed off. I just put in X amount of time training, and $$$ amount of money to race, and this is my result. Argghh.
At the very least you will be frustrated, and rightly so. Reasons for DNF can be anything, an injury, adverse conditions, or just a really crappy day. Whatever the reason may be, as an athlete you need to deal with that race, and move on. For most of us one bad race will not define you, or your athletic career. Learning to deal with the disappointment from a DNF is a skill that requires mental toughness.
Here’s some suggestions for dealing with DNF:
Limit the pity party
Your friends, families, and training partners won’t think less of you for a DNF. Most of us over inflate the importance of our athletic goals in our mind. Take a couple of days to process your thoughts, and then just move on. You only get so many days on this planet, do you want to spend them pouting about some race? Be proud of the work you put in to make to the start line. Plus no one else wants to come to your pity party.
The best way to learn is to fail
When you were a toddler learning to to walk, did you parents let you fall down once, and then decide to not let you keep trying to learn to walk? Of course not, That’s crazy. You learned to walk by continually falling down and getting back up, until you figured it out.
The same is true for racing. You may not have hit your goal, but what did you learn along the way. Did you gain some course knowledge? Did you identify your weaknesses? Did you get a sense of the work you need to put in to reach your goal?
Don’t let the DNF be a total waste of time and energy. Figure out what you can do better, and crush your next race.
Winners don’t make excuses
There will be valid reasons why you had to DNF. Figure out how you can overcome those challenges, and succeed in your next race. Rationalizing your bad race with a bunch of excuses won’t help the situation, and is harmful to your mental toughness. Focus on the parts of the race that went well, and the things you can improve.
“Failure is just a lesson, until you make an excuse” – Jordan
Get back on the horse
If you’re not injured, then find another race to jump in. Don’t waste all of your fitness on that DNF. Find a race that looks like fun, and focus on that. Shift that frustration to motivation for your next race.
I’m sure you won’t have a DNF, but if you do, I hope these tips help out.
” A goal is a dream with a deadline” – Napoleon Hill
This post is not meant to be some self help guru speak about goal setting and changing your life. It is meant to be a practical look at setting big goals, and the power and momentum that comes with them.
Big goals motivate and inspire us and the people around us. Think of a time when you set a goal that you had no idea that you could reach. The bar is set different for everyone. Your goal could be to run across the country, or finish a 10K. Whatever that goal is it needs to stretch the limits of your perceived abilities. (aka step out of your comfort zone. That term is completely over used.)
Here’s my best advice for planning and achieving big goals.
Start with why.
When you pick your big goal, ask yourself. “Why am I doing this?”
Are you testing your limits?
Do you think it would be cool?
No matter the reason, be sure it is a reason that means something to you personally. This is intrinsic motivation, and the most powerful form of motivation. Outside motivation is short lived and weak. Thrill of posting your accomplishment to social media will last a day or so. The feeling from accomplishing something personally important to you will last forever.
Know your limits, then crush them
Achieving big goals takes time, and normally more time than you think. When setting a big goal, assess where you are currently. Then determine how much progress you need to make, and the time it will take to get there. Be self aware, and realistic with your time frame. It’s a balancing act of picking a goal that challenges you, but doesn’t set you up to burn out. The best goals are ones that are slightly out of reach.
If you want a shortcut to your goal. Talk with people that have already achieved your goal. Get their feedback about your time frame, and current fitness. Find out what worked for them and what did not. You can use their experience to accelerate your own progress. Everyone progresses at different paces, but the quickest way to meet your goals is hard work and smart training.
Celebrate along the way
Your big goal make take months or years to accomplish. Set up milestones along the way to measure progress and celebrate. These smaller goals will keep you more focused, and motivated along the way.
Many people training for their first marathon have never run more than a half marathon before. As the plan progresses they will be running their longest run ever each week. Every time they hit a new long distance they should celebrate, and know they hit a new milestone toward their goal.
Enjoy the process
Life is short and time is precious. Spend your time pursuing something you enjoy. The goal is just the finish line, and a small part of the process.
Let’s take the marathon example again. Your goal is to finish a marathon. Where’s the start line? The start line is when you make it your goal and start training. The race is 26.2 miles, but your will train many more miles than that. You better enjoy running, or this will be a long miserable process.
It’s only a failure when you give up
“A failure is only a lesson, until you make an excuse.” – M. Jordan
If you are truly pushing your limits, you will encounter bumps in the road. There are two paths you can take accept defeat or learn from it. Your goal is always in reach if you believe it. History is full of examples, Lincoln, Edison, and Col. Sanders. If you have a moment, look up their stories. They had unbelievable persistence in the face of failure.
When we fail our minds will start to pay tricks with our motivation. That crack in the armor will let doubts creep in. We then rationalize these doubts, and start to talk ourselves out of our goal. These rationalizations are excuses, and excuses are weak. Excuses will sabotage all of the progress you made already.
My best strategy to combat failure and excuses is to decide I will meet me goal at the start of the process. Once you make up your mind, doubts won’t derail you. You are already know the outcome, you just need to put in the work. Your results may not come on your original time frame, but with persistence they will come.
For the past year or so, I’ve had the honor to coach new and beginner triathletes. Some of my athletes made great progress and accomplished fantastic goals. Many of those goals, at the beginning, they thought were not possible. Along the process they have thought me many lessons as well.
Here’s the five most important insights I gleaned from coaching new triathletes. Hopefully, they will speed your progress as a new triathlete.
You are more capable than you think you are.
When I first consult with a new athletes many times they are not confident they can achieve their goal. Putting yourself out there, and trying something new is daunting. Instead of telling yourself, you can’t do something, say “I can’t do it right now”. Many athletes before you have finished the race, PR’d or whatever the goal may be. Why can’t you? Decide you will meet your goal at the beginning of the process, then get to work on achieving it.
Don’t view themselves as athletes.
If you are training and participating in races, guess what? You are an athlete. For you to increase your fitness and reach your potential, you need to view yourself as an athlete. You might say, “great I called myself an athlete, now what?” Viewing yourself as an athlete is a shift in mindset. You will view your overall lifestyle differently, and make better decisions. For example, a normal person just eats, and athletes fuels their body. A normal person goes to the gym to workout, an athlete goes to the gym to train. When you view yourself as an athlete your decisions are made with a purpose. That purpose is to achieve your athletic goals.
Need more focused training.
If you want to try a new restaurant across town and you are unsure how to get there, you open up your map app. The map is going to give the quickest route from A to B. A well planned training plan is a road map to your athletic goal. It needs to start with a clear destination, and give direction along the way. You can start your journey with no map, but it will most likely be a longer and more time consuming route. (metaphor off)
This is the most important point for new athletes. Having a training plan can save you tons of time, energy and injury. The plan can come from a coach, or you can find one on the web. Find a plan that leads you to your goal, and fits your schedule. When each workout has a purpose, you will greatly accelerate your athletic progress.
Consider the long term view.
Aside for a very genetically gifted few, most endurance athletes will need years to reach their potential. It takes years of training and patience to build endurance in the body. Take Mark Allen, 6X Ironman World Champ for example. It took him 6 tries to win his first Kona, and the first attempt he didn’t even finish. Over those first six years he kept working, and the speed and endurance came.
It’s easy to only look week to week during training to measure progress. When a workout or a week of training doesn’t go well, we get discouraged. Sometimes, it’s best to pull back and look at your progress from a longer time line. You may have been progressing for the past six weeks, and you on just on a plateau before your next breakthrough.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Don’t be shy. As a new triathlete there is a ton on information to learn. There are three sports, training, recovery, equipment, etc. Heck, this is the reason I started this blog. Find an athlete who has been racing for a while, and pick their brain. Most people are excited to help out. You can learn from their mistakes and experience, and speed up your progress.
Welcome to Fantastic Finish Photo Friday. We want to bask in the awesomeness of your finish photos. A finish photo captures a moment in time, where you overcame the challenges of the race and training, and reached your goal. The feeling of elation as you cross the line is what keeps us pushing our own limits. Please consider sharing your own photo to inspire others who are working toward their own finish.
John is one of my coached athletes. He reached out to me for coaching to improve his fitness going into the Snowman Triathlon. I designed him a 9 week training plan, that he followed diligently. John completed every workout I threw at him with the correct intensity. John made fantastic improvement over the training plan, culminating with a superb race at Snowman. John was an absolute pleasure to coach, and I see tons more improvement for him in the future.
This week’s Foto is from John Baden:
Always Aim High Events hit it out of the park with this race, stunning views of the snowdon horseshoe, beautiful (but cold) lake swim at the national mountain centre at plas y brenin, fantastic fast bike course despite an almost 10km climb back up to T2, and to top it off, a mountain run (ahem, hike) to finish!
After a 9 week training plan, that I followed as closely as I have ever followed anything it was time for me to don my new hometown Triathlon club kit for the first time and embark on something quite hard! (understatement of my life) I intend to carry on with training and do the race series the organisers of the snowman arrange every year.
Arriving the night before my race and camping less than 5k from the venue was the first plus of my weekend, allowed me to pitch the tent, then make registration the evening before. Allowing me to prep all my kit the evening before the race.
Arriving early on race day, I parked my car no more than 500 metres (yet not on the race route) from transition and ambled down to rack my bike and find a much needed caffeine fix. superb marshalls on the entrance to transition made this process nice and smooth. I racked the bike and went for a look around the centre at Plas Y Brenin before heading back to start getting ready.
Race briefing was done whilst athletes where prepping in transition, with the use of some fairly hefty loudhailers, not a problem to hear it and a very thorough briefing (the brit tri referree telling us we where about to jump into a bracing 11 centigrade lake!)
I got my wetsuit on, and got comfortable, checking and rechecking my bike shoes and trail shoes where easily accesible when needed. Then the shout came, 9:50am, we were to head to the lake and swim entrance, I took the plunge early and used the time to get a few strokes in and make sure my suit was well fitted. 10:00am And the hooter goes off, and I set off on my swim, settling into a rhythm early and actually finding it quite comfortable, 8 minutes later I was hauling myself out into the morning sunshine, unzipping the suit as I headed back towards transition.
In transition, I took the time to dry my feet and put a pair of trail running socks on before I got the bike shoes on, helmet clipped up, bike unracked, I was running for the mount line, with the encourragement of the event organisers and some crazy local supporters ringing in my ears, I ran past the mount line, and mounted a little way down the road, so as to avoid knocking anyone over. I tightened my shoes, and got my head down. Literally spinning my legs up to 100rpm and speeds in excess of 65kph on the descent to Llanrwst through Betws y Coed. Then, outside a petrol station, I realised my seat post was dropping, Disaster! I was going to lose time, Luckily a fellow competitor stopped with an alan key, seat post put right, I was on my way, a flat loop until the 10km climb back to Capel Curig started at Betws. Still I managed to average 31kph on the bike, and only just went over the hourr for that leg. Approaching transition again, I took my feet out my shoes (well I tried!) and got off just before the line! with the owner of the event company policing the line shouting encouragment I felt awesome getting back to my position. My bike was re racked, helmet took off, I slipped my running shoes on and set off into the un-known!
Leaving transition for the final time, I was feeling good, until I got into the tree line. There the path ramped up and I think most people where then reduced to a Hike, through some of the most rugged and brutal terrain I’ve ever seen. After 50 ish minutes, I reached the turn around point, and thats where the fun really began. As it was ALL downhill from here, I started to let my legs go, following the guy in front of me all the way back to tree line, an awesome feeling to descend a mountain at speed, running through boggy muddy sections without a care, and hurtling over rocky outcrops as fast as possible! BRILLIANT! thenI hit the flat forest road, and was speeding along at 4 mins 30 seconds per KM, I got to what I thought was the finish distance at 5k, I was wrong! And I hit a wall, 1.4km later however, and around 2 hours and 20 minutes after jumping in the lake I had crossed the finish line to an amazing sense of achievement.
If you are a new or beginner triathlete and would be interested in coaching, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please consider sharing your own photo to inspire others who are working toward their own finish. It doesn’t have to be from a triathlon, just any race that has special meaning to you. If you are interested in sharing, please send a message to email@example.com.
Are you a new or beginner triathlete looking to improve? Have you decided to use triathlon to improve your lifestyle and overall happiness? I want to be your coach. Even better than that, I want to be your coach for free.
I started this firsttimetriathlete.com, a couple of years ago to help new triathletes just getting into the sport. There were tons of sites dedicated to helping intermediate and elite triathletes, but a shortage info for brand new athletes. Even the sites originally designed to help new triathletes had become too advanced. Triathlon is already an intimidating sport with three separate disciplines, and the multitude of the gear required. My goal is to make triathlon simple and approachable, so more athletes will finish their first race, and hopefully continue their triathlon journey.
The elation of crossing the finish of a new challenge, which you were not sure your could complete, is awesome. In that moment all of the hard work, and struggle pay off in a crescendo of joy. The race doesn’t begin at the start line. It begins when you decide you are committed to the race and start training. I want to help coach you through your own journey and finish. Check out the Fantastic Finish Foto Friday Page for stories of others finishing their first race and what it meant to them.
I’ve been training for and racing triathlons for the past 6 years. Before triathlon, I was a Cat 3 road cyclist, and raced bikes for 10 years. I’ve raced in 2 Ironmans (training for a third), marathons, and ultra marathons. I’m not the fastest guy out there, but endurance sports are my passion, and I am a student of the sport. Most importantly, I give a shit. The success of the people I coach is my very important to me. It gets me pumped to see people finish something they thought was impossible.
The deal: (Did someone say free?)
This winter I plan to get my USAT coaching license. In order to get in to the program I need more coaching experience on my resume. Crazy right? In order to become a coach you need to be already be a coach. So in the spirit of the win-win, I offer my highly valuable coaching services for the low, low price of free to gain the experience. Also, I really want to new athletes improve and give back to the sport I love.
Here’s what I am looking for in a potential new client. You don’t have to meet all of these requirements, but this is a good guideline.
New to triathlon, or beginner triathlete looking to improve.
Looking to improve overall lifestyle through triathlon.
Not overly competitive. Racing against your own goals.
Have a race coming up in the next 8-15 weeks.
I looking to take on 4-5 new athletes in the next couple of months. Here’s what you will receive from me:
Initial assessment of your current triathlon fitness
Custom training plan developed for your next race
Weekly email/phone progress consults
If you are interested and looking to improve, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t be shy, if you read this far, you’re most likely interested, shoot me an email. If you know someone else, that may be interested, please pass it on.