Sprint workouts are tough, we all know that. Sure, they’re not usually as long as other workouts, but you’re red-lining the whole time. Heart pounding, heavy breathing, maxing it out — to the point of dizziness, for sure — and maybe a bit of puking if you’re lucky (or unlucky).
I had a friend call me out the other day. It was a good reminder. As I explained to his wife that my upcoming sprint triathlon ends with “only a 5k,” he said, “not ‘only,’ it’s still a 5k.” He had made an excellent point. Because it was not close to a full or even half distance triathlon, I was downplaying it.
So then, why do we brag about sprint workouts, yet downplay sprint triathlons?
Don’t Downplay Your Race Experience
Just because you have buddies training and racing for longer distances, you don’t have to feel any less-than because you are participating in a short-course event (sprint and olympic distance). Come on, it’s still quite an accomplishment to commit to, train for, show up to, and complete a triathlon of ANY distance.
I’ve had guys roll their eyes at me in disapproval at times I’ve signed up for the shorter race of the two or more event options. To them I ask, “Why do you want to feel superior for going farther?” No, better yet, “Please keep your stinkin’ opinions to yourself!”
Set New Goals For Yourself
Like I said earlier, sprinting is not easy, and you can still use goals to motivate your training. Just like you tried to whittle down the time of your 100-yard dash back in high school PE, why not set up some new goals for things like:
- Personal record for overall distance — “Heck yeah!”
- Feeling great before, during, and after your race. Serious, how did you feel? — “Easy peasy.”
- Fastest swim ever — “Nailed it.”
- Best average MPH on the bike — “I didn’t even realize I was going so fast!?”
- Achieve your pacing goal on the run — “R.E.S.P.E.C.T. My legs just found out what it means to me!”
(Stats can be fun to compare and contrast, just don’t get too hung up on the numbers. They don’t necessarily mean anything.)
These ideas work especially well if you participate in the same race every year: think apples to apples, or home-court advantage.
Where are we going with this? I don’t know for sure, BUT there are a couple valuable lessons for beginner triathletes training and racing for any distance in the sport.
- Com’on, be proud of yourself, don’t compare, and definitely don’t let anyone else steal your joy from your accomplishments. “Sprinting ain’t easy.”
- No matter the distance, there’s always a new goal or accomplishment to be had. Find one and go after it. “Always be improving — in triathlon and life, of course.”
And still, no matter what happens in the end, I’m giving you a participation award! So take a bow and finish with pride! A sprint triathlon is a triathlon and that is AWESOME!