Everything you‘ve been training for has been canceled or postponed-then-canceled. It’s like a cruel episode of the twilight zone. You plan your entire training calendar and travel plans twice, just to scrap them in the end.
For all of us this has been disappointing. For some it has resulted in binge-eating ice cream; others have taken up strange rituals like posting kitchen calisthenics videos on social media; others, myself included, have resorted to cycling substitutes like riding the trainer and chasing cartoon avatars through digital worlds a la Zwift and Rouvy.
That was cool for the first four months of quarantine. It kept us busy, and, yes, racing Zwift will keep you in shape, but now it is the zenith of summer and we want to race! The days are long and the beer is cold. The simple fact is that beer and food taste way better after going big.
Now we need to define our own finish lines.
I think a good challenge depends on performance, exploration, and stories. These are the things that motivate and inspire us to wake up at the crack of dawn (or earlier) to do some crazy stuff.
For sure you've seen some people take this to the extreme and try to paddle 50 miles, ride the equivalent of Everest four times in one week, ride 24 hours in their backyard, or (even worse) try an off-the-couch Ironman having never run before. These are fools errands. Preparation is half the fun of any big race. Getting the gear dialed, finding a good routine, improving your fitness, chasing the carrot, and nailing a good hard interval session; these are the outlets of inspiration.
What’s your inspiration?
My guide to the world of DIY challenges is to look at the fact that this is your finish line. Find something significant to you that leverages your strengths as an athlete, connects with places of meaning to you, or is a challenge that you’ve had on your bucket list for a long time but that you’ve been too busy or too hesitant to commit to.
In my summer series here on Slowtwitch, I will share a few of the crazy exploits that have put me just outside of my comfort zone. These adventures and self-directed challenges are opportunities to stoke motivation, trigger the feelings of pre-race nervousness, celebrate accomplishments, and even experience the disappointment of “almost did it!” that can inspire you next time. May these stories help you find your finish line and stoke your endurance fire.