Ashley Horner steps onto a treadmill, inserts her earplugs and stares at a blank wall as she runs and runs in silence. And runs and runs in silence. The 34-year-old fitness celebrity is training herself to combat boredom. She’s concerned it could set in during her upcoming challenge: 50 Ironman-distance triathlons in 50 days.
All told, that’s 120 miles of swimming (think Los Angeles to San Diego), 5,600 miles of biking (New York to Cairo, Egypt) and 1,310 miles of running (Miami to Chicago). She’ll traverse 7,030 miles (Chicago to Shanghai), start to finish. Incredibly, she has never completed a single Ironman-distance triathlon — 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a 26.2-mile run — in her life.
“I’ve done several Olympic distances, several sprint triathlons and a half Ironman, which is 70.3 miles,” Horner says. “But I’ve never actually done a full-distance Ironman triathlon.”
And in an added twist, she’s going to do her first one in Haiti, her next 48 in each of the 48 contiguous states and then No. 50 back in Haiti.
I’m grieving. The race I had been training all summer for, Xterra Aspen Valley, was cancelled because of the horrendous fire and mudslides that have occurred in the Basalt area.
I scheduled time off from work and hoped to make a mini vacation with my wife, Cindy. I trained hard all summer and looked forward to this race. But like all triathlons, they are subject to Mother Nature and sometimes she doesn’t cooperate the way we want her to.
The first reaction most of us have when a race is cancelled is anger. After all, we put a lot of time and energy (and money) into this race. Our bodies are pumped and primed to race and when we can’t do what our bodies are yearning to do, it’s FRUSTRATING!
Some people get angry at the race director but this is futile. He or she has also put a lot of time and energy into planning the race and the last thing they want to do is cancel it. It’s not their fault. The reality is, it’s no one’s fault. It’s the risk we all take when we sign up for an outdoor event and we need to remember that from Day 1 of training.
The second reaction is sadness. No, this is not the grief you experience when you lose a loved one or for those people in Basalt, who lost their homes. But it is still grief and the sooner we recognize it as such, the sooner we can get on with life.
What can you do about it? Here are some options:
Look for another race to do. For Xterra athletes consider another Xterra race such as the IronLake Xterra in Spearfish, South Dakota, August 24th, or Desert’s Edge in Fruita. Refocus and adjust your training plan so that the new race becomes your A race.
Volunteer at a local triathlon or outdoor event to ease some of the pain.
Look for something totally different and noncompetitive, but strenuous, like going for a hike or climbing one of Colorado’s mountains, to use up all that pent up energy!
Most importantly, just let it go. Move on. It’s not the end of the world. Watch five minutes of the news and you’ll quickly realize how unimportant a cancelled race is, in the big scheme of things. Remember how lucky you are to even be training for an endurance race!
For me, Aspen Valley was at the end of the season so I have chosen to throttle down the intensity of training and just maintain fitness. I’ll probably do a few local running races but will focus on planning out next year’s races. As my kids would say, it’s time to take a chill pill!
Racing will begin Saturday, August 4, at precisely 6:02 am. Swimmers will complete a 1.5 mile loop on a triangular race course, every hour. Racing will continue every hour until no swimmer completes a loop. If we reach 6:02 pm on Sunday, August 5, without a winner, race directors will implement a swim-off. There will be one award for our first-place finisher.
Big Ring Cycles is hosting the Second Annual Colorado Women’s Ride Day on Sunday, August 5 at Tony Grampsas Memorial Park in Golden. The day begins with a variety of women-led road and mountain bike rides on routes ranging from casual to challenging. Riders return to a delicious brunch prepared by The Basted Egg and drinks. Besides scoring prizes and swag, this is a great chance to connect with other women cyclists, including special guest, 14-time national champion Katie Compton.
Over the past few years, I have noticed a trend to get hyper-focused on training specifically for one event. To a fault, coaches get hired with the intent or goal of a season ending event like an ironman, half ironman or national or regional championship. Travel time and expenses of the event coupled with the pressure to produce a result by the athlete and sometimes the coach become the focus. The end-state or goal becomes singularly a place or a qualification or a time.
The proverbial journey should outweigh the destination. As a coach and athlete, I have seen the pitfalls of this kind of thinking. There ends up being so much pressure to produce that if the one event does not have achievement, the season is seen as failure. Development of the athlete as a whole should be the focus; results are a nice bonus and achievable if the proper development occurs.
I would implore both coaches and athletes to look to the local race calendar as a supplement to not only the training and skill development but also to have fun along the way. Quite often an athlete and coach get worried about how an additional race can take-away from focused training. However, when scheduled properly, even a local Dash N’ Dine 5k or Stroke n’ Stride can be shuffled into the overall development equation. These kinds of gatherings to be with like-minded people are the best part of our sport.
Goals can be shifted to individual sport effort, pacing, and skill development. A weekend local triathlon does not need to be done on rented race wheels or at peak condition. The athlete and coach can establish individual sport and skill goals that work to develop the athlete as a whole.
-Did the athlete best navigate the swim course?
-Given racing inspires better bike position- is a current fit comfortable?
-Did the athlete stay aero through particularly technical section of course?
-Were run race flats comfortable (without socks)? Was bike nutrition found to be sufficient for a good run?
Note that none of these focuses involved time or place and can be at least qualitatively measured. Plus, they are important for future events and overall athlete development.
Now, that I have made these recommendations, go look at the 303 Race Calendar and sign up for an upcoming triathlon or even swim or aquathon event and get it incorporated into the fun development journey of our sport.
Billy Edwards lives in Niwot and coaches the Collegiate National Champions, US Naval Academy Triathlon Team. Billy focuses on having performance development in sport complement life. USAT Level II and Youth and Junior Elite Coach, USAC Level II @billythekidtri or firstname.lastname@example.org or billythekidtriathlete.com
Throughout my career, I have had the privilege to travel the world and watch you share the joy of racing and an active healthy lifestyle with your families. Regularly, I am asked about how I balance training, racing, my coaching business, and family. I gotta say, it’s not easy but it pales in comparison to the juggling act most of you have to do. I have the luxury that I don’t have a job that involves commuting, a boss, or the daily management of people. I’m lucky that when I’m training, I am working. With that, here are a few tips I have picked up over the years that could benefit anyone trying to manage it all.
1. Have a routine but don’t let your routine stress you out
Training for a triathlon is time-consuming and mentally demanding. Add in juggling a schedule, work/life and the schedule of your family makes it tougher. I have found that you have a set schedule, there is one less thing that you have to think about and by getting into a weekly rhythm you can focus on your workout instead of juggling activities. If you know that you have certain time blocks everyday and specific dates for each workout, then it makes it easier to pack your bags, have everything you need and be ready to train. Further, it allows others(like your family), to plan as well.
2. Establish expectations and communicate regularly
Critical for any relationship and a family tri relationship is establishing expectations and communicating if you need to change your schedule or needs. When my wife knows that I won’t be around on specific days/times, she can plan her life and my kids’ life around that. Conversely, my wife can let me know her expectations and needs for me so that I can plan my training around that. The key is being clear and establishing a routine. In our house, my family knows I swim early. The expectation is that I won’t be there when they wake up but I will be there during breakfast to get everything ready for school and then get the kids to school while my wife heads off to the cupcake shop. Similarly, I also spend time with my kids explaining to them what I am doing in my training and why. This lets them understand why I am going out on a 4 hour bike ride or in my training cave for hours at a time instead of going with them to the park.
3. Be in the moment
A lot of folks try to do too much. Too much at work, too much with their family and too much training. What ends up happening is they ‘fail’ at everything or are always guilty that they aren’t living up to their expectations. What I try to do is really be in the moment for whatever I am doing. If I am training, I am singularly focused on training as I would be doing a disservice to myself and to my kids if I didn’t give 100% to my training. Similarly, when I am with my kids, I am not feeling guilty that I am not training- I am 100% dedicated to my time with them. It makes everything I do more impactful and I can provide a higher quality experience in everything I do, which is what matters in the end.
4. Brick/Combo workouts
The best way to get in multiple workouts in a day is to brick your workouts. The typical brick is bike/run but you can easily swim/bike or swim/run as well. The goal here is to minimize the prep time and clean up time. Instead of splitting workouts and having to prepare and clean up twice, you can save thirty to sixty minute by doing it once. Really want to get crazy, you can swim/bike/run most days like me :).
This film follows 6 triathletes from 4 countries (U.S., China, Germany, and Australia) and tells their stories of how they train and prepare for the world’s largest long distance triathlon race – the legendary CHALLENGE ROTH in Germany. The history of the early days of Ironman triathlon is also told by some of the Ironman legends.