There are different schools of thought with regards to setting goals. Some set achievable short-term goals to be able to celebrate each victory along the way and not overreach. Some aim really high to extend and push themselves beyond what is possible. Some do both.
When I told family and friends that I intended to race Ironman again at 50, I could see the happiness and support in their eyes when they realized that I was going back to do something that I really love.
When I told them that I was going to try to become faster than I was at the age of 32 – the happiness in many eyes turned into a glare that seemed to say he has completely lost it.
I typically set my goals rather high, but have I lost it?
Perhaps, but I rather think that I have found it – again.
18 months ago, I decided that rather than to sit and hold on to the false sense of security at a corporate job, I started up my own company again and now work fewer hours per week to be able to spend more time with my family and train more. Being an interim/ consultant is perfect for a performance junky like me. Get in – deliver results – get out.
This change in lifestyle for the past year has given me the possibility to rebuild a decent fitness base and soon its time to start with the real training again.
After the 18 years break from competing in triathlon, getting married, having 2 children, high pace corporate jobs on 3 different continents with too much work related travel associated with it; I think Ive found my way back to the happiness you only get when youre in physical motion.
The goal of my training is bigger than to just reach a certain time or personal best time. It’s also to never again take another break and to even further develop the apprechiation of every training session in decades to come. But I have also set some measurable goals.
Saying that I want to be faster at 50 than at 32 gives some room for interpretation
In 1997 I had my best Ironman Hawaii race finishing 74th overall at 9hr 34 min. I also had my best Olympic non-drafting race finishing second overall at 1hr 59min in Chievres, Belgium.
To improve those results will be serious challenge at 50 – I might have to revise my goal to faster at 50+ than 32 and give myself a few years to get there
The main areas that I will focus on and utilize to my advantage in the journey to improving my speed and performance at +50 are the following (note: not in order of importance as I can not judge that yet).
1. Improvements in materials: There has been a tremendous advancement in materials used in triathlon. By using the best materials and technology available I hope to gain a few minutes advantage over my old self with regards to performance. I will write about the materials that I try out and provide my view if the material has significant advantage compared to what we used in the past (if at all available in the Jurassic Period, when I used to race).
(I had to smile coming out of the water – What an incredible difference with todays wetsuits! Comfortable, not restricting your movement, floating through the 3,850m IM Mallorca swim like a torpedo in 56min without even pushing it)
2. +10,000hr principle: Several studies of optimal performance, not only in sports but also arts and music, have shown that it takes 10,000hrs to become truly efficient in something. So far I ve put approximately 6,500-7,000hrs into triathlon. There is plenty of room to become more efficient as the 10k hours actually will be calculated for each sport
. With current yearly training volume I will reach 10k hours for the combined sport of triathlon in 5 years.
3. More research and knowledge about training: Over the past 20 years some of the methods and thoughts about training we utilized in the past remain, but there has also emerged new research and conclusions that I will build into my training. In future blog-posts I will write about what worked for me and what didnt.
4. Improved technic by consulting the best trainers: During my last attempt to become fast (96-98) I had the benefit of being coached by twice, top ten Ironman Hawaii finisher, Jean Moureau from Belgium. From one year to the next I improved my personal best with over an hour on the same course (IM Roth from 10:17 in 1995 to 09:12 in 1996). I will not be able to go back to the volume of those times unfortunately. I will need to become more efficient in all three sports and I will consult the best trainers/instructors to ensure that I dont waste energy, time and resources.
5. Nailing it – The perfect race: So far I have started in 11 Ironman races and finished 10. Only one of them has been anywhere close to perfect race – IM Kona 1997. Perhaps the distance in itself and the time you spend doing it makes a perfect race impossible. There are so many things that can go wrong over the 226km that you are traveling – not to mention the 2,2600km that you have done the year leading up to the race in preparation and that either makes you extremely ready or injured or burnt out.
A goal is not really a goal if its too easy. A real goal should be so difficult that it is almost unattainable – ”aim for the stars, get to the treetops”. Just dont forget to enjoy yourself on the way there; the goal is just a destination – its the journey that counts.
Stay safe on the roads and enjoy your training!