The odds of success dramatically increase when you have a plan. Athletics is no different, especially endurance athletics. Anytime you’re planning to move outside your comfort zone, you are exposing yourself to risk. And when you are doing something epic like the ENVEREST Challenge, you can’t afford to wing it.
No Risk, No Reward
But the whole point of this exercise is to challenge myself, you say. You are 100% right. But there’s a big difference between a challenge you plan for and the challenge that surprises you.
This isn’t a birthday party. You may like surprises, but the majority of unexpected things that happen to endurance athletes aren’t exactly great. Overtraining. Running out of calories. Dehydration. Pulled muscle. Lost. Or some combination of all of the above.
Having a plan make sure that you already have a solution ready for most of these unwanted surprises.
Moving Macro To The Micro
Setting the parameters for your challenge is important. These guardrails will effectively make sure that your challenge is in alignment with your season bolts. There’s a time for challenges just for the sake of a challenge, but early-season is not that time.
Step One: Set The Duration And Location
Do the math on your expected race performance, including duration and intensity. Review the terrain, and do the math on the timing related to daylight and sleep.
Using these guidelines, we will create a sketch of the challenges you want to complete.
For example if you’re planning to complete a 10 hour adventure race, and early-season challenge could range from anything like a ten-hour outdoor venture, to a five hour effort closer to tempo speed. In that 10 hour effort were going to be challenging, or in a unique location, perhaps to make a trip out of it to a destination that matches that same scenario. This could be to back to back after days or perhaps an overnight if you feel up to it already.
Step Two: Remove Negative Incentives
Remember that it’s still early in the season. Speed is not the objective, endurance and skills are what we are developing here.
A great deal of your speed will come from what you learned in this experience. Showing up to this early-season challenge with expectations related to time or speed will prevent you from making smart long-term decisions. It reduces the challenge to a race against the clock instead of a race for growth.
You absolutely should use all of your data devices, but don’t use them as a whip. They should be on the collection mode gathering all of your metrics. This should be on notification mode, with timers and alarms going off help you stay on top of key decisions. Remember this is a training exercise, not a race!
Step Three: Create The Narrative
Everybody loves a good checklist, you’re likely no exception. We still don’t need granularity just yet.
Start instead by creating the story of the challenge. Your goal here is to use narrative structure to tell the story of this amazing athlete as s/he moved to the process of completing the challenge.
First the athlete creates a plan. The athlete does all of the proper shopping and organizational stuff. Yeah sleep dutifully notifies friends and family training partners so as to stay safe. Nothing arrives on site begins the epic journey. Along the way the athlete encounters problems!!! Something is forgotten. Or lost. Perhaps it’s a lesson they were supposed to have remembered from last year? Perhaps it’s a freak accident that only happens to people in the news. Whatever it is, our hero must adjust, and quickly.
Springing into action the athlete works quickly to solve the challenge and prevent any future difficulties from manifesting. As our hero nears the end of her adventure, she remains focused and resolute.
Capture what the end of that adventure feels like, defined exactly what success is.
Using this exercise you too will be able to capture not only the details of what you need to do but be able to do so with clarity. The emotional component of storytelling makes every little decision significantly more tangible. More message on the process, the more likely you are to me detailed and effective decisions.
While this may seem intimidating, your actually don’t need to write an entire novel of what happened. You can turn on your phone and simply tell the story yourself as a voice memo. Save it, and then listen to it again just before you dive into the details.
Mankind has used stories for thousands of years to educate and inspire in them prove one another. Now you can too.