They say that doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. I am not a psychologist but I can see where they are coming from. I think this is true in racing, training and in living a healthy lifestyle. Many people want to get in shape set a goal and fail. A few months or years later they do this again and fail. This can repeat itself over months and years. I know it did for me. It is the same with racing. Someone will not handle the heat well, suffer an upset stomach on the run or start cramping so badly that they can't run. Instead of learning from the negative experience they either ignore the problem or rationalise it. I am racing my first big race of the year in less than 2 weeks and I am trying to make sure that I learn from all of the experiences that I have had over the last 11 70.3's that I have completed (a 70.3 is a triathlon with a 1.9km swim, 90km bike ride and 21.1km run).
The race is going to be held on the Indonesian Island of Bintan which is a 45 minute boat ride from Singapore. From what I have heard there are two key things about this race:
This race is also my first attempt at getting a slot for the 70.3 World Championship in 2016. I have been training specifically for this race since the start of February and I think that I am fitter and faster than I have ever been. However, I am trying to be cautious. This is for a number of reasons. Firstly, I have never raced for any purpose other than giving it my best shot. This time I will be racing to finish as high as I can in my age group. I am actually going to have to try and race agains the other competitors in my age group. There is something at stake for me. The closest I have come to this was last year at the Western Sydney 70.3 where I was racing for a specific time. I wanted to go under 4:30 for the race. I had focused on it all year. I crumbled under the pressure that I put on myself and had a terrible race. It was also one of the hottest races I have experienced so there were many lessons I took away from the race that I am trying to use for Bintan.
Firstly, I have tried to stay as relaxed as possible about the race. As I mentioned, this is my first attempt at getting the slot. I have set myself to maximise my chances. I have registered for a number of 70.3 races some of which have a large number of slots. I also bought a 70.3 season pass meaning if I am one of the top ranked athletes I may get a slot that way too. What I am meaning to say is I am trying to focus on how it doesn't all come down to this race. This is simply my first chance. The next thing I am doing to also try and stay relaxed for this event is to actually focus on my next race. As I have mentioned several times I have been trying to get the elusive sub 4:30 time for a 70.3 and Sunny Coast is a much better race to do that. So in a way I am using Bintan as a warm up for that race. It actually works out well I suppose because I am not expecting a fast time in Bintan because it is a tough course so I am going to instead focus on going as fast as I can. Not hitting a certain time and hoping that the time I do is fast enough.
The weather in Indonesia is another thing which I am trying to use my past racing experience to deal with. I have raced in Thailand in the humidity and I have raced in crazy hot conditions in Australia. I think Challenge Melbourne topped 40c and Western Sydney hit 39c. This actually makes me feel a little confident about the heat. Ideally I would have liked to arrive in Asia maybe a week before the race to get used to the temperature but being a student means I can't skip classes. Instead I have been trying to stay as hot as possible when I train. Using layers on the trainer and when I go out running. I also know how I need to hydrate in the lead up to the race and to use drinks with carbs in them on race day because I will be sweating so much.
I have been in this sport for a few years now and I think that experience is going to give me a bit of an advantage over at least some of the field. I am lucky because I have had great races that I didn't expect and had terrible races that I want to forget. But because I am surrounded by people who have lots of experience in the sport they have taught me to learn from my mistakes. I know how to suffer, I know where my mind goes when I am hurting, I know how much pain I can tolerate. But, I also know hot to deal with it now. I am not saying that I will have a perfect race in a couple of weeks. There is a good chance that the heat will get to me or I will have a meltdown like I did in Penrith. What I am saying is that it will take a lot more for me to give up this time because I have learned how to handle it.
Lets take it away from triathlon now and onto diet and exercise. I was so guilty of trying the same thing over and over and never seeing any change. I think that lots of people out there do it. It can be even harder in this day and age when there are so many people telling you that this thing or that method is the best way to lose weight. In reality I think it is simple and it worked for me. I didn't go on a fancy diet or start some 12 week challenge or buy a dvd program you can do at home. The secret to losing weight is to burn more calories than you consume. When I started to understand this, the weight started to fall off. Now I understand that there is more to it than that. There are different sources of calories and different forms of exercise. I think that everyone is different and what works for one person will not work for another. I will say that I don't think that high intensity is the best way to go. I think that aerobic work is still the best way to burn fat and lose weight. But try things and find out what works for you. If you are really struggling talk to a GOOD trainer. Someone who really knows what they are talking about. But learn from your mistakes. There is nothing worse than failing over and over again. So do everything you can to equip yourself with the knowledge to prevent yourself failing. By learning from your mistakes, you are able to avoid them again in the future.
Stay safe, keep your chin up and remember to TRI!
I lost 50kgs though triathlon and completed the 2016 70.3 World Championships. Aiming to hit 4:05 for a 70.3, the same time it took me to complete my first Olympic Distance Triathlon. I want to bring as many new people to the sport as possible. Whether you are fit and active or want to make positive changes to your life.