Knowing Your Limits

I’m sure I’ll catch some flak for this post but, hey, who am I to sidestep my real thoughts and feelings on a subject? Besides, I think some people really need to hear it.

Sometimes, it’s perfectly fine to JUST SAY NO!

With the latest extreme endurance events popping up all over the place these days, more and more people are signing up for races and events that they are in no way prepared for. Never was that more evident than this past weekend at the Spartan Beast/Ultra Beast in Killington, Vermont. This would be my third year taking on that mountain. In 2013, I did the Beast with my wife. In 2014, I took on the Ultra Beast. This year, I again took on the Ultra Beast.

Regardless of how the course has changed the past 3 years, one thing remains the same, the carnage! Every time I have stepped on that mountain, I have seen thousands of people who just have no business being out there, period! Yes, I am all for pushing outside your comfort zone and I am all about challenging oneself but, to what point?

Personally, I do not see the glory in putting yourself in an extreme state of stress, just for a possible medal. I actually view it as somewhat disrespectful to the toughness of the event when, someone signs up for the race, finds out they are in way over their heads, then makes up a million excuses as to why they skipped obstacles, skipped their penalty burpees, blame the race venue/directors for their own poor planning. “If you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail”.

It seems that these days, everyone believes they are this remarkable and amazing athlete, just because they have the ability to pay for and register for any race of their choosing (for the most part).

Not that my voice matters that much in the sport but, I have voiced my opinion numerous times that I believe certain races should have criteria that must be met in order to register. Maybe you need to run X time over Y distance in a race and prove it. Maybe you need to do X number of Y type of races in order to register. I am utterly amazed how just anybody can sign up and register for some of these races, without having proven they’re capable of handling it.

Every year, you have people going on social media and complaining because they didn’t meet a time cutoff and were pulled from the course. To me, that is crazy!! Sure, you didn’t quit but, you failed to prepare, thus, you should be prepared to fail. If you don’t make the cutoffs (which are quite lenient), then you didn’t train like you should have and, need to train harder next year and maybe give it another go.

This doesn’t just include OCR’s though. For me, this includes marathons, ultra races, etc. Unless you have a disability of some sort, there needs to be minimum requirements to participate in such events, in my opinion. What are those requirements? Well, i think there needs to be a progression over certain distances and I think there needs to be standards met, so that it proves your commitment to achieving the next rung on the ladder. Before being able to register for a marathon, I feel as though one should have to run a sub 2 hour half marathon first. To sign up for an ultra, I believe one needs to have had run a sub 4:15 marathon first.

For new clients who want to be a part of The Endurance Project, I have them do an initial questionnaire. In this questionnaire, I am looking for past athletic involvement, current fitness, short and long term goals, timeline to achieve such goals, availability to train, etc.

If anyone has come to me and said, “I just want to complete this distance”, then I usually try to convince them that we need to first focus on something smaller, then work our way up so that they can give their best efforts. Aside from getting the most out of an athlete so that they can reach their own max potential, I am most concerned about keeping the athlete injury free, as well as design a program for them that will still be fun and exciting, not arduous and burdensome.

Social media is starting to ruin athletic achievements. Gone are the days where people work their asses off to accomplish something. Now, you basically just pay the money, toe the line and, “see what happens”. Aside from Boston, Western States and a few other events, there isn’t much in the way of having any prerequisite performances to prove that you are capable of such a feat. People doing these extreme endurance events with chains around their neck, cinder blocks on their shoulders, etc. If you want to make the race “harder”, then run it faster. Stop beating yourself in the fucking ground just so you can look like a “badass” on Instagram.

Though it isn’t as glamorous or Facebook worthy, I have far more respect for an individual who is willing to train their ass off for months or years to accomplish a certain goal. To me, foolish pride is not noble or respectable. This serial “racing” that people do, just to get a medal and a t-shirt, doesn’t impress me in the least. What is impressive is, an individual who trains hard in order to perform their best, not just to sign up, week in, week out, to complete an event.

Yeah, yeah, i know…we all do this for different reasons and it’s #WhyIRace but, lets be honest, pretty much all of us want to do well and to do our best, right? I see the same individuals on social media, complaining about how their times are regressing and how they were so much faster a year ago, two years ago, etc. They just “can’t seem to figure out” why their performance is declining, all the while, signing up for long distance events nearly every weekend, often times running 2-3 events per weekend.

Hell, I had a guy message me a few weeks ago about how he has a goal of “getting on the podium” at a Spartan Race and then asked if I could help him get there. When I told him that I could help him but, he’d have to stop racing so much and actually train, he said “well, I don’t know if I can do that”. Ok, well, then I’m not the coach for you and, you’ll never see a podium as long as you’re continuing to beat yourself up, for no real reason other than to be told how BEASTLY you are.

So, I close with this. Set a goal(s). Make them short and long term and attach time frames to them. Compile a training program and or hire a coach that will make your goals achievable. Respect your body and understand that it’s a finely tuned machine that needs quality attention.

Remember, if you don’t give your body the rest and recovery it needs, your body will take it on it’s own, whether you like it or not, often in the form of injury or over training syndrome.

Think about the big picture, not just the instant gratification that you can post all over social media. Get the best out of yourself.

“Don’t be afraid to give up the good, to go for the great”

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