Ever since our cycling trip to France last year (600 miles and 60,000 feet of elevation gain in 9 days), I’ve missed the commitment, preparation and sense of personal accomplishment that training for a strenuous physical event brings. To prepare for France, I trained for about 6 months, riding 4-5 days per week on a pretty strict schedule of mileage & elevation gain. As other priorities have now taken over, I’ve not spent much time on my bike, maybe one decent ride per week since we returned from the Tour de France last July. In fact my fitness in general has taken a back seat.
Recognizing this “training” void in my life for the past 8 months, Renee for my birthday offered to drive the support vehicle so I could ride 2 stages of the upcoming Amgen Tour of California. This is an 8-stage, pro-cycling tour event that is gaining in popularity and now competes directly with the major European tours, taking place May 15-22 along the California coast. Amateurs have the ability to ride stages in the morning before the riders begin.
I’ll be riding Stages 6 & 7 of the Tour, the first being a relatively easy time trial through the Santa Ynez wine country outside of Santa Barbara. The second is the defining stage of the race – Claremont to Mt. Baldy, twice! It will be a 75 mile stage with over 10,000 feet of elevation gain during the day. If I had to do it tomorrow, I wouldn’t make it. That’s what makes the training journey so important and rewarding – there’s no way the objective could be achieved tomorrow, but with a detailed plan, broken into manageable and achievable components, success is all but guaranteed.
So I have roughly 6 weeks to get my cycling legs and have laid out DAILY training objectives between now and May 20. I know precisely what I have to do tomorrow to prepare, and the next day, such that on May 20 the objective will be achieved.
Many endurance athletes would agree that the training journey, the hours, the pain, the discipline are what makes the actual race or event special. It’s an adrenaline payoff for a lot of hard work, but many would also agree that training itself is enjoyable, even addictive. We don’t do the training solely for the event, we do the training because it is rewarding all by itself. The event or goal is simply what helps us stay on track, an additional motivator.
Why not apply these principles to most things in our lives – professional and personal? I can see lot’s of opportunities in my own life to be better about setting stretch or aspirational personal goals instead of living life day to day. Or perhaps being more diligent about my career objectives 2, 3 or 5 years from now to ensure I’m on my DAILY path to get there.
What objectives have you been putting off defining? Maybe, just maybe the journey to reach them will be as rewarding as reaching the objective itself.