After chatting with a would-be competitor the other day, I was reminded of how important it is to prepare to compete. Despite some illusions, competition is not a measure of fitness. Yes, there is a fitness component. BUT….. Competition is a measure of mental toughness, and a culmination of the training.
Racing is painful.
Yes, I said that.
Racing is painful. Endurance training is preparation for being comfortable with being uncomfortable. And many people who are preparing for various events, are content with slogging along and just finishing.
So, before I start receiving all the hate mail, think about it. How many people on forums, who are beginning to train to run, bike, swim or tri, are content with slogging along and have no desire to push beyond and move faster, or make excuses for being slow? I am not taking anything away from the beginner, or the individual who has begun to train and is working hard. And yes, I have had days where I cannot seem to put one foot in front of the other. I am talking about the person who is just content doing, and gets annoyed because races bring out the competitors, the fierceness, the desire to be the best (even if it means a PR). I am talking about the person that says, some day I will be fast. I am also talking about the person who is ill-prepared to compete. This person can run a decent pace, at a steady pace. The person who races like a tempo run. This person gets annoyed when the competition shows up and surges and pushes their limits.
In both cases, the individuals are not prepared to race.
I come from a breed that believes you need to train like you expect to compete. If you want to run fast, you have to train fast. You need to push your limits in practice — physically and mentally.
Many of us are content with just showing up, and wonder why we do not exceed our expectations.
The reality is racing is not a steady-slog state (even if your slog is faster than others). Racing includes surges, and pushes. Racing changes tempo. Racing is uncomfortable.
And training should reflect that, including surges, pushes, falling back into a tempo and surging again.
And there is a method to this. Not all days are crazy, but include appropriate recovery and challenges. Training lays a foundation to build upon. Training teaches, and prepares for the competitive arena, which also teaches. Training prepares the athlete to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.
What is your training preparing you for?