Fitness Fails – Why No Plan Survives First Contact

Fitness fails, destructive disappointment, and the fact that “no plan survives first contact”.

Feeling frustrated that you didn’t quite achieve a fitness target? Disappointed that things didn’t go to plan and positively p*ssed off that you worked hard for nothing? Ok, so I’m exaggerating slightly, but sometimes when things don’t go to plan it can be hard to look passed the things that went wrong and focus on what went right. Read on to discover you are not alone in feeling disappointed, but sometimes it’s just not necessary….

At the end of 2015 my husband and I completed Ironman 70.3 Bahrain. Only, it wasn’t 70.3 miles because the swim was cancelled (cue sad face, then happy face, then sad face again).

Stretching before Bahrain Ironman 70.3

So my finishers medal hangs proudly on the wall, displaying “70.3”, and I feel like a bit of a fraud. Should I scratch it off and write “68.8” over it in black marker pen? DO I have to explain every time someone says well done that “actually we didn’t do the whole thing, but we wanted to!”? And let’s not forget, what we did was still a challenging race, and something we should be proud of.

Here’s my quick run down of how to cope with curve balls and disappointment and still be proud of the end result.

1.No plan survives first contact.

Day 1, Week 1 of military training we are taught this valuable lesson. You can plan as much as you like, but as soon as that plan is put into action the situation will change unexpectedly. And this happened to me multiple times in my Ironman experience.

Whilst in the middle of my training, I had to go to the UK for some work. This meant leaving the heat, the sea and my trusty bike behind in Bahrain, and this would hugely upset my training. But I did my best with what I had, finding a gym near by me with a pool, and spending some quality time on a spin bike with the sufferfest!

And then there was the fact that at the very last minute (0530 on the morning of the race to be precise) the swim segment was cancelled due to strong winds. I had gone over the race quite thoroughly in my head in preparation… how I would enter the water, how I would pace myself during the swim, as well as nutrition before and after that segment. How I would go through transition 1 and get off to a good start on the bike. So to be told on the morning of the event that we would start on the bike was a bit of a shock, and momentarily I was panicked. Swimming is a strength of mine. But I had to accept you can’t control all the conditions, but you can control the outcome. I just had to adapt and do my best in what were the longest two segments of the race. So my plan changed a little, but it was still going to be an excellent event that pushed me to my limits.

2. You are your biggest competition.

I love the swim, and I couldn’t help feeling cheated that it was cancelled. So what if it would be a huge challenge for some people I thought, it’s their own fault for not training enough. GET OVER YOURSELF! I was just disappointed that I wouldn’t get to overtake some people and feel good about myself. But then I had to remember that was just about my ego. I was racing for me… it didn’t matter who I overtook or who overtook me, as long as I was doing my absolute best. Stop comparing yourself to others, and work with what you’ve got. If you’ve trained right, then you should know whatever you are doing is absolutely enough.

Comparison is the thief of joy

3. Be proud to go home for tea and medals (or Prosecco and cake!)

Although we didn’t do the swim, it didn’t mean that we weren’t ready to do it. It’s not like we were counting on it being cancelled. We had done the hard bit…

Race day reward

And riding 91km in strong winds and then running a half marathon is still f*cking hard work! So I finished feeling proud, satisfied even, that I’d earned my finishers medal, and now I could go home, rest, recover and start planning the next event!

Bahrain 70.3 Ironman finisher

So pleased to reach the finish!

So there you have it: try not to focus on the negatives, and be proud of what you have achieved! And remember, you are constantly improving, gaining, learning, and looking forward to the next challenge. It would be great to hear how you’ve overcome disappointment and turned it into a positive… let us know, and use the hashtag #armygirlwins

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