Find me an endurance athlete that hasn’t answered this at least once. I will wait, because I don’t think you can find one. It is an easy answer to give people that really do not understand what and why we do these things to ourselves. When it becomes a lie though is when we start giving this answer to people that do in fact understand these things, particularly when it is not our first rodeo.
I know that I am guilty, and as I talk to other athletes I understand that most of us do it. We tell this little white lie because internally we are fighting a battle with ourselves. There are three translations of this little white lie.
- It is my first event, and I simply do not know what to expect
This is probably the most legitimate usage, particularly early in the training cycle, but even then, I think most athletes have a number that they are internally targeting.
- I do not want to admit how slow I am
This one I see a lot with people that are ultra competitive and are unwilling to share a target time that makes them look slow/bad/out of shape.
- I’ve set an unrealistic number in my head and if I tell you and miss it…
And the is the killer. I think many of us are guilty of this one, I know that I am. We set high goals, and telling someone else these goals makes them more real, and raises the stakes.
Emotionally, each of these translations have ramifications, but I am going on record that 3 is my reasoning. This season I will be doing my first events at the 70.3 and 140.6 distances, and yes, I have set unrealistic internal goals. When I say I just want to finish, I am leaving out the last bit.
For the 70.3, I may tell you that is all about finishing, but that last bit that I say in my head is usually “In a number between 5:30 and 6:30. 40 minutes for the swim, 3 hours for the bike, and 2.5 hours for the run would the ‘realistic’, but in my head, I’m thinking 30 minutes in the water, 2.75 on the bike and a 2 hour run, which would be a 5:15’ish finish. and that’s why I may answer you ‘just finish’ because I don’t really want you to know that internally I’ll be disappointed with a number that starts in a 7 or greater..