Watching elite athletes compete in their sport has always filled me with a sense of awe. The grace of a hurdler navigating the obstacle filled track, a swimmer flying through the water, cyclists shifting at exactly the right moment or a skier floating across the fresh snow making mountains look like mole hills.
For Fathers Day, my dad and I attended the final stage of the North Star Grand Prix in Stillwater. Just as we were leaving the venue, one of the winners was being interviewed about race strategy and preparation. He said,
“You have to race to beat yourself.”
This just about stopped me in my tracks, coaches in skiing tell us to do this too, but I’ve never heard anyone say it in the summer. The summer is filled with time trials, and these are a great way to compare yourself to fellow athletes. However, most importantly it’s a way to compare your current self to your past self. If you aren’t training to make yourself a better athlete, why do the time trial? why race?
The following weekend was the Tri-Loppet. With these words still resonating, my partner and I paddled up to the start line and did our best to keep the boat upright! It was a blast, and provided a different kind of opportunity to get the heart rate up. A chance to push outside of the comfort zone in an unfamiliar way. I’ve always struggled with finding motivation to do intensity in the summer, but it becomes a lot easier when the intensity is integrated into your training plan as impromptu 5k’s, weekend races or chasing your friends around a playground and up sledding hills. It’s supposed to be fun! and hard.
Summer is the perfect time to have fun with training, but it’s important to remember that you are your best competition. No one else knows how much work you’ve put into your training, or how many times you’ve thought about turning around early or how you tenaciously finished a workout even though it started to downpour. If you consider yourself as your best competitor, through every workout, the competition will always be there pushing you. It gives positive reinforcement and tests limits.
Whether it’s a set of 4×4 intervals, a local Fun Run, or a National competition, each intensity session is a test designed to make the body a better athlete. “Race to beat yourself” and don’t forget to have fun.