December 2018

How to choose your next race or goal

Are you struggling with finding the motivation? Don’t know what to do for your next race or goal for 2019? I’m often asked how did I decide to take the leap from no triathlon experience and deep water phobia to completing Ironman UK after nine months of training and then an ultra duathlon and and multi-stage ultra marathon in the desert. When you’re choosing your next goal or event, whether it’s fat-loss or race specific, these should help you make your mind.

Wadi Rum Ultra marathon. Photo credit: Benedict Tufnell

Can you afford it?
It’s the big old boring question. With certain events, like middle distance and long distance triathlons and ultra marathons, the cost of everything, from training to kit to race entry, added up together can be expensive.

Wolf Run

Look a your finances and see if you can afford it. Look at what kind of gear you’ll need for training throughout, how much is the race entry, what gear do you need for the race? If it helps, use an Excel spreadsheet or a bullet journal to track your finances.

If you don’t think you can afford it, look at changes you can make. Do you really need that Amazon Prime subscription? Can you swap those morning Starbucks extra wet, double shot coffees with coffee you make at home and bring in a reusable cup instead? Can you swap your commute to work/university/school via public transport to commuting via walking, running or cycling instead? All these little changes can add up and make monthly savings that can help you with saving up.

Ironman UK

With gear, you don’t necessarily have to go all out and buy brand or spend a lot: buying second hand items through Facebook groups, Gumtree or eBay are just a few ways where you can buy perfectly fine items at lower prices. Post Christmas Day is a good time to buy stuff: more people will sell unwanted presents. See my post on how to buy all the gear for an Ironman race for under £1000.

If you can’t afford it now, don’t let that hold you back: using the above, save up over a period of time. At the end of the day, you don’t want to go into debt so save up rather than spending money that you can’t afford it. If you really, really want to accomplish it, look at other alternatives: Ironman is a branded event, not a distance. If you want to complete a long distance triathlon, there are many events that are much cheaper that may be within your price range instead (and some argue better organised): Lakeman, Midnight Man and Outlaw are a few examples in the UK of cheaper iron distance tris.

Grafman Middle Distance tri

Does it scare you?

Does it scare you? It doesn’t have to be the “I’m going to poop my pants if I try” kind of fear. It can be anything that makes you just that little bit uncomfortable. Something that forces you to step outside your comfort zone. I get a bit reluctant telling people about my Ironman journey at times because often people will say something like “I only run 10ks”, downplaying their own achievements.

This something that scares you, that puts you out your comfort zone, can be anything. You might be aiming to run a faster marathon, running your first 5k or half marathon or completing a Tough Mudder or your first triathlon.  
People look up to Ironman/ iron distance triathlons in awe but they can equally forget about the other distances that exist in triathlons. Admittedly, I’ve yet to do a sprint or standard distance triathlon, but having completed my first sprint aquathlon in autumn this year, I can tell you that was a lung buster and seriously tough work. I can only imagine a sprint triathlon being even harder.  

My point is, we’re all different, the mountains we have to climb are different so don’t downplay your goal.

Realistically, can you fit the training in your life and are you willing to fit in around your life?

Does your goal require you upping your training or making significant changes to your lifestyle? This is a serious point to consider. To achieve your goal you need to put the work in and if you aren’t committed to that then you need really consider your goal. Think about the time you’ll need to work on it. Are you willing to commit to that? This can’t just be a post-Christmas idea that lives on for January only. Yes there will be highs and lows during the process, but as long as you are willing to commit for the whole duration then you can do this.

Why do you want to do it? 

Wadi Rum Ultramarathon: Photo credit Benedict Tufnell

But why do you want to do it? Know the reason(s) why you are setting out to achieve your goal is crucial. In those dark and hard moments during your training, you’ll be thinking about quitting. Heck, some people do quit. Make sure your ‘why’ is strong, powerful and you’re fully connected with it – this will drive you through those moments when you want to quit. 

How much do really want to achieve it?