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TriHardAlan - Tales of an Age Grouper
TriHardAlan - Tales of an Age Grouper

Carrott or the Stick

TriHardAlanby TriHardAlanDec 10th 2012
I spoke last time about competing in the Twickenham 10k and despite it being an off season ┬"fun┬" event I was taking it seriously and aiming for a pb. Well, it didn┬'t work out that way. Instead of the 37.38 I wanted could only manage 39.08, which I was bitterly disappointed with. When looking at the splits I was never really on the pace:

It could be argued there were reasons for this. Two (small) sets of stairs, a single file gate to negotiate and a 3 ish k section along a tow path which was very muddy and everybody lost time there. Talking to some club friends after who had competed and explaining I wasn┬'t happy with my 12th place finish one of them commented ┬"your never happy, you can┬'t beat yourself up all the time┬". But is that true┬...┬...

We are all familiar with the Carrot and Stick theory for motivation. The Carrot gives rewards for success, the Stick gives punishment for failure. But can we apply either to Triathlon? Yes, and I think everybody does one or the other, either consciously or sub consciously. For example, a top Age Grouper will aim for World or European Championship qualification as their reward/carrot for training hard. But then that same aim could also be the punishment/stick, ie if qualified in previous years then not doing so again is removing a comfort you possess because of your failure. So what works best? I think its personal. For me, it┬'s the Stick every time. I look for failure in success. That sounds depressing some might argue, if you cant enjoy the good days what┬'s the point? Well, you can, just not for long. In a season where I have set pbs at all distances, took 1.5 hours of my IM time, regularly been the fastest runner in my AG, had a string of 2nd, 3rd, 4th place AG finishes, ran my fastest standalone run times in 3 years its hard to find failures right? No. One of my motivators for next season will be the End of Season Awards party for my club next year. This is a whole 12 months away but as well as the Club Championships won by competing against your peers there are awards given like Captains Award, Chairman┬'s Award, Most Improved Athlete (and others). And these are awarded purely on somebody judgment and I was disappointed not to get one this year. Ignoring the huge variable of personal opinion this could simply be because I fall between categories, not quite one of the clubs fast boys or girls who win events, AG┬'s or qualify for Kona but far removed from a beginner too and the kind of eye catching big improvements they are capable of. So how to use this as motivation when I┬'m not racing a clock or a peer but instead opinion? You aim to move category, become an athlete who does win Age Groups or qualifies for Kona. 2nd in Age Group is good right? No, 2nd is the first loser. And racing against the opinion is the best motivator of all as there are no limiters, you have to be your best all the time.

For my next race I┬'ll be aiming to beat Chrissie Wellington, now if that┬'s not ambitious what is! Till next time.
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