Category Archives: motivation

Dealing With F’N DNF

pool

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.

 

 

 

 

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Know Your Limits, Then Crush Them

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” 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.

 

 

 

Fantastic Finish Foto Friday – Steel Bike Declan

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.

This week’s photo is from Declan Kenny:

getting-medal

This is me getting my medal as I crossed the line for my first half ronman, the ‘Ireman Triathlon’ in Northern Ireland, 27 Sept 2015.

Read more about Declan’s first HIM on his blog: http://unironedman.com/

If you are a new or beginner triathlete and would be interested in coaching, please email me at firsttimetri+coaching@gmail.com.

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 firsttimetri@gmail.com.

Foto Finish Friday – Dr.Dan from First time Triahtlete to Ironman in a month

Welcome to (a special follow up)  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.

This week’s Foto is from Dan Engström:

Dr Dan IM Finish

 Photo by Andy Kenyon

Dan:

IronMan UK
 
Here are a few collected thoughts from a Hero Hour finisher in my first Ironman triathlon: IronMan UK 2015 in Bolton, England. Hero Hour? The hour for the sixteen hours plus finishers. The slower ones. Me. First of all, let’s get one thing straight. It was brutal. You prepare as well as you can, even to the point of being more than decently fit before I even entered, in August. In preparation, I ran a marathon, biked a 300 km race, swam a 3 km open water race and did  an Olympic triathlon. I had also prepared well mentally. The fact is, I needed every last bit of mental strength to bring out the power needed to keep moving. The swim was easy for me, which was a bit of a surprise. The rolling swim start was a great thing that probably helped. But the bike leg sapped energy by the minute from the legs, because of the hills (expected), a very mean wind (not expected to be THAT bad) and the appaling condition of the tarmac (certainly not expected). It felt as though I was biking uphill on a cattle grill for 112 miles. But somehow you had find the energy to keep moving.
 
Keep moving. That was the mantra of the amazing volunteers and people of Bolton. Keep moving Dan! Well done, Dan, you’re doing great! If IMUK was brutal it was equally spectacular. The commitment from everyone around the race was truly amazing and a memory for life. I found a familiarity about doing the IronMan in Bolton that I certainly did not expect. The IronMan community and the people of Bolton come together and really made the effort to get there worthwhile. A steady slow trot, uncomfortable but not painful, and some walking, up and down between historic Bolton and a crescent about 4.5 km away and suddenly, there was the finish line. I arrived with almost an hour to spare to the deadline and the energy to savour the moment.
 
If you decide to do the IronMan UK in Bolton, make sure you know how to fix a puncture. Expect a hilly bike leg that is challenging but with easier winds not too bad. You’ll climb Sheephouse Lane easily if you’ve trained. Prepare for plenty of logistics time with the two transition zones being 10 miles apart and bring a car. Embrace the hurt – it will get very uncomfortable but you WILL be able to make it to the finish line. Everybody else is just as tired as you are, and even at eleven at night, there will be people cheering for you at the finish. Find strength in all people shouting your name and just keep moving. Then enjoy those magic words at the red carpet declaring that you are an IronMan!
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Photo by Jim Pike
 
Dan you are a beast! Hold on to that feeling of accomplishment from an Ironman finish, its like nothing else. You progress is fantastic, and shows the rest of us that anything is possible with the right mindset.
Cheers to you, Dan!!!
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 firsttimetri@gmail.com.

My First Tri with Travis Macy, Author of The Ultra Mindset

Final Cover- The Ultra Mindset

I heard an interview with Travis Macy on Ultra Runner Podcast (one of my favorite long run podcasts) about two months ago. He was speaking about the crazy endurance races he has competed in all over the world. He has competed on everything from snowshoe racing up mountains to multi-day adventure racing trough the desert.

The story that struck me most was about Travis’ Dad, an accomplished endurance athlete himself, first attempt at the Leadman 100. His dad went into the race under trained, without proper gear or nutrition, and willed himself to the finish. He may have finished a hobbled version of himself, but he finished what he started. As a father this had a tremendous affect on me as I’m sure it did to young Travis. We can tell our kids how to live, but showing them by leading by example speaks much louder.

Overall, I enjoyed the book tremendously. If you are an endurance athlete you will take something away from this book. The principles set forth in the book can be applied to racing or everyday life. When you apply the principles  contrast them against the stress and intensity of of Travis’ adventures it gives you a whole new perspective. The stories of the extreme races Travis has completed have given me a new perspective on what’s possible. This book will make you want to seek out new adventures and challenges

Continue reading My First Tri with Travis Macy, Author of The Ultra Mindset

Meeting the Iron Cowboy

Last night I had the honor of running with the Iron Cowboy, James Lawrence on his #25 IM in as many days in Williamsburg, VA. If you haven’t heard for James’ crazy challenge, he is doing 50 Ironmans, in 50 states, and 50 days. Pull your jaw off the floor, that is some crazy shit. That’s 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run everyday, and then driving to the next state to start again. It’s like a painful version of Groundhog Day played out in a different place every day.

Here’s a quick video explaining James’ mission:

My threshold for crazy endurance feats is pretty high, but this is on the edge of what I think is possible. I first heard about James’ story on the Rich Roll podcast. My brain was swimming thinking about the difficulty of the challenge.  I immediately started following him on social media, and fired off an email. If James makes it to Virginia I’m coming to run with him. This is a once in a life time opportunity to see someone doing something unheard of.

After following James’ journey for the past few weeks, the day had finally come to go and run with the Iron Cowboy. At each of his events, they have a 5k portion of the day where people can meet up with James to run. We met at Jamestowne High School at 7pm to shove off for the 5k. There were about 50 people there to run. I brought my family so they could check it out. I’m not sure if my girls understand the significance of what was going on, but I want them to be around this type of positive and healthy energy.

The Iron Cowboy showed up about 10 mins before 7pm having already completed the swim, bike, and 4 miles of the run. He gave a quick speech about his challenge, and partnership with a charity fighting childhood obesity. He introduced his family of five kids, for whom this whole journey is dedicated. Not only is he taking on this massive challenge, but this is a huge family vacation. While dad is out pounding the pavement, the kids are hanging out and going to see the local sites. This is the most awesome and difficult family vacation, I have ever heard of.

Everyone gathered for a group photo, and we were off for the 5k run. It was a very leisurely run, so people could chat with James and get some selfies. When we first started, I mentioned to the guy next to me this feels like the scene in Forest Gump. The scene where he just keeps running, and people start following. Thankfully he didn’t just stop like in the movie.

After the 5k, I went and ran some more miles with James and a small group. I got to chat with him for a while, and I kept my questions short. His answers were short, as I am sure he is exhausted from the effort and sleep deprivation. I was taken by his focus. We weren’t moving quickly, but he was steady, and concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other. In all I ran about 10 miles, and my family was ready to go. I wish I could have stayed until the end. I was filled with so much positive energy, I could have run all night.

It was a great experience, and one I will remember for a long time. I met some wonderful people during the run. Everyone was super positive and supportive. The most interesting guy I met was a Russian Physicist from Richmond.  He was a competitive swimmer, and now he is getting into running and triathlons. Many people drove 2-3 hours just to come and run with James. That is the power of a really big goal.

I have to say I am truly inspired by James’ challenge. I hope he stays healthy and finishes. I have some ideas for challenges of my own, and its time to get them rolling. The bar has been set very high now for what is possible. Just like James’, I’m trying to stay active and make my kids proud.

If the Iron Cowboy is coming to your state, go and run with him. He will appreciate the support, and you will have a chance to witness greatness.

Motivation Monday – Get good at having fun

Merry Monday! Let’s do this! We all could use a bit of motivation to get rolling on Monday. On Mondays, I like to share a Mantra or short inspirational message. If the message resonates with you, use to motivate yourself in training or life. Do you have your own awesome Mantra? Please share it below in the comments.

“Never, ever underestimate the power of having fun” – Randy Pausch

This quote is from Randy Pausch’s last lecture. This lecture is details how his childhood dreams would shape his life. If you haven’t seen it before carve out an hour and check it out. It will change your perspective.

If you want to really improve your training and race times, get good at having fun. As an endurance athlete, progress comes from dedicated practice over a long time. Dedication is way easier to maintain when you are having a great time. Being able to train and race is a gift, not punishment for your body. Motivation will wax and wane, but you should always enjoy your activity.

It’s easy to start treating your training as a second or third job. Workouts are scheduled for weeks out, and certain paces must be maintained. This mundane day to day training can become a grind and suck out all of the fun.

Here’s a few suggestions for adding some fun into your training:

  • Find a soft grass field, and do some barefoot sprints.
  • Get a group ride together and try a brand new route.
  • Race you friends for fast 50m in the pool.
  • Sign up for a short race, and let it rip.

The saying is “Love your work, and you will never work a day in your life”. Try to apply that same principle to your training, and see massive improvement.

Fantastic Finish Foto Friday – Capt Jason – From weight loss surgery to Triathlete

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.

This week’s Foto is from Jason Demars:

First Time Triathlete Jason

Continue reading Fantastic Finish Foto Friday – Capt Jason – From weight loss surgery to Triathlete

Motivation Monday – The key to long term results

Merry Monday! Let’s do this! We all could use a bit of motivation to get rolling on Monday. On Mondays, I like to share a Mantra or short inspirational message. If the message resonates with you, use to motivate yourself in training or life. Do you have your own awesome Mantra? Please share it below in the comments.

“Long term consistency trumps short term intensity” – Bruce Lee

I’ve been dealing with some sub par results lately. I was starting to question why I race and train so hard, and don’t always get the results I want. Paging Shawn, pity party table for one. Then I took a step back and looked over a longer time frame. I have been consistently improving year to year. By training purposefully and consistently, I have continued to improve. There have been peaks and valleys, but over all my times have improved. For me the key to improvement is to train consistently, and eventually I will reach my goal. When I start to have doubts because of recent results, I need to step back and look at the long term trend.

Below is a video from six time IM world champ Mark Allen. Mark dnf’d his first IM Kona, and one second place finish sent him to the hospital. In all, it took time seven attempts to win his first IM world championship. Mark is a true example of consistent training and improvement.

Do you have along term goal right now, that is not going as planned? Do you want to quit? Or do you keep taking step forward with consistency until you get where you want to go?

Monday Motivation – True measure of excellence

Merry Monday! Let’s do this! We all could use a bit of motivation to get rolling on Monday. On Mondays, I like to share a Mantra or short inspirational message. If the message resonates with you, use to motivate yourself in training or life. Do you have your own awesome Mantra? Please share it below in the comments.

Continuous effort not strength or intelligence is the key to unlocking our potential. – Churchill

How do you feel when you finish a race or workout, and know you have given it your 100% effort? Fanastic, most likely. How about when you miss a goal time by a few minutes? Probably not so good. We look for ways we could have gone a bit faster, and have some regrets. If you gave that race your 100% effort, then you have no doubts or regrets. It was the best effort you give on that particular day.

The universal is always placing obstacles between us and our goals. In triathlon, it could be wind, rain, heat, illness, flats, insects, flooded roads, inconsiderate drivers, inconsiderate racers, overzealous moto refs, pot holes the size of a trash can or any host of issues. (Sorry for the long list, I was listing things that the universe has thrown at me). These forces are beyond our control, and conspire to take away our PR. When the race gets difficult the only thing we can control is our effort. When you cross the finish, forget the clock, and know you pushed as hard as possible. Only you know, if you gave 100%, don’t cheat yourself.