Do What You Can

author : alicefoeller
comments : 0

When you can't train the way you want, train the way you can

It's easy to become discouraged when life gets in the way of triathlon training.

If I'm behind on my work and just can't take a break for a scheduled run, or my kids are begging me not to make them go to the YMCA so I can swim because they just want to stay home and chill, a workout slips away. It's easy to feel that I've "fallen off the wagon," and training is just not going to happen. My goals are out of reach. I can't stick to my training plan.

And although the tools here at BeginnerTriathlete that import my training plan into a daily blog and a monthly calendar are great for tracking my progress and encouraging me to hit my training goals, it can be quite demotivating to view when I haven't logged a workout at all for a week. I feel fat. I'm tired and grouchy from not exercising. My time goal for an upcoming race is receding into impossibility.

Similar feelings intrude on the otherwise endorphin-filled lives of endurance athletes when we suffer an injury or other medical setback.

A few years ago, I attended a triathlon conference and was privileged to hear a lecture from Dave Scott, six-time Ironman world champion. (A video of his speech that day is available here.) He spoke of measuring success in terms of your own goals, and not being bogged down by perfectionism and comparisons to other athletes. And then at one point (42 minutes into the video) he revealed that his perfectionism would cause him to not run at all if he only had 50 minutes to spare, but had a 90-minute run scheduled. (Sound familiar, anyone?) Instead, he resolved to "Do what you can do in the moment."

Yesterday I had a very busy day at the office and had planned to go home at lunch and go running with my dog. Instead, it was 2pm before I had a break, and I was up against another deadline to pick up my kids from camp in time to get them to a martial arts class. It would have been easy to just stay at work and skip the run altogether. Instead, I made myself go home and put on my running shoes. Although I ended up only running for 20 minutes, I did the workout in high heat and turned up the speed to try to make it worth my while. It wasn't the workout in my training plan, but it wasn't nothing, either.

At times like that, I channel Dave Scott and say to myself, "Do what you can right now." Maybe it's a set of pushups and crunches instead of a 30-mile bike ride. That's not going to get me to my six-hour half iron finish as quickly as I want, but at least it's a step toward the goal instead of a step away.

Here at BT, we are all in a community to support one another and be encouraging. Take advantage of the forums, check out inspiring articles and videos, and remember that you are only as far away from getting back on track as what you choose to do in the next minute.


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date: June 30, 2016


Owner at Beginner Triathlete, web marketing consultant at SiteInSight, writer, entrepreneur, advocate for unstructured nature play for kids.


Owner at Beginner Triathlete, web marketing consultant at SiteInSight, writer, entrepreneur, advocate for unstructured nature play for kids.

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