As a Coach, I try my best to be a good example for my athletes. Here is the truth: I’ve made my fair share of mistakes over the years! The lessons I’ve learned from my mistakes have been tools in my toolbox for years. One of the goals I have for my athletes is to help them avoid the same mistakes I’ve made.
Coach Mari’s Top 3 Mistakes:
#1: Drinking too much the night before a big workout – My first century ride was the Six Gap Century in the North Georgia Mountains in September 2004. Yes, I chose a ride in the mountains as my first 100-mile bike ride. Was it peer pressure that helped me complete the registration form? Maybe. Was it the fact that my Ironman training buddies were also signing up for this ride? Maybe. Did I have any doubt I could complete it? No. It wasn’t until I drank too much the night before at dinner, woke up with a big headache, got to the ride late and almost missed the cutoff one third of the way along the route that I strongly considered quitting. I felt lousy, but I finished the ride in about 10 hours. The finish was at the school where we started the ride. The parking lot was almost empty and all the food was gone. I was glad to be done, but I kicked myself all the way back to Atlanta for not being in tip top shape for this grueling ride.
Drinking occasionally is not the worst thing in the world. However, you will never be at your best when you drink prior to training or racing. When I learned how much dehydration negatively affects performance, I decided to forego the pre-race glass or two or three of wine with dinner.
#2 Not following the plan – My third Half Iron-Distance race was the Florida Challenge in Clermont, Florida in October 2004. I traveled to the race with a group of friends and friends of friends. One of the guys, who was a friend of a friend, scoffed when I was buying white bread at the grocery store for my breakfast PB&J. Even though this is what I had for breakfast in training, I gave in to his suggestion and got wheat bread. Once I hit the course the next day, I realized the effects of fiber on the system. I visited each and every portable potty on the 13.1-mile run course. Not good! Again, I beat myself up for not sticking to the plan that worked during all my past training sessions.
Regarding nutrition, we all respond differently to different foods and nutrition products. We all need to practice this in our training. I also suggest having a “Plan B” for race day because what works in training might not especially work during the race.
#3 Signing up for something big while already training for something big – Ironman Coeur d’Alene (my 1st IM) was already on my schedule for June 2005 when I entered and got in the lottery for the New York City Marathon in November 2005. I thought “Oh, doing a marathon after my Ironman will be a piece of cake!” I could (and I might) write an entire post about why this is not true! After the Ironman on June 25th, I turned right around and ran the Peachtree Road Race 10K on July 4th and my marathon training began from there. I didn’t take time to rest my body or my mind. I did not enjoy training. I did not enjoy the race. In fact, I asked the police officer at the finish line to “…put me out of my misery”! His response: “I’m out of bullets”!
To all of you First-Time-Ironman-Athletes-In-Training: Please don’t sign up for a big event until AFTER you complete your Ironman and you’ve given yourself time to rest and recover!
I’ve made a bunch of other mistakes like forgetting to put my bib number on in T2 at the Disney Olympic-Distance Triathlon in 2003 and trying a new bike dismount at the Gulf Coast Half Iron-Distance Triathlon in 2005 which resulted in a crash in the chute in front of my hubby and several others.
Over the years, I’ve learned a lot. I don’t make these silly mistakes anymore. Please put some of these lessons in your toolbox and save yourself some time and embarrassment!