The other night I watched a documentary about Mike Tyson. He was an animal in the gym.
Even Evander Hollyfield said he never saw anyone train so hard. Tyson was in relentless pursuit of being the best and knew that happened long before he got into the ring.
Tyson destroyed everyone in his path (usually in the first round) on his way to becoming the Heavyweight Champion. At some point he got distracted by the fame and discarded his relentless training habits before fighting a relative unknown and 42-1 underdog named James “Buster” Douglas. Douglas shocked the world by sending Tyson to the canvas.
How do we keep the fire burning?
I started running and triathlon with a simple goal: To pull me from a downward spiral and feel alive again. Three years later, I’m in an entirely different place and using the podium at Ironman Muncie 70.3 as motivation.
So, the struggle now becomes, am I going too far the other way? Racing for the wrong reasons?
I have talked so much about “racing against yourself,” and I still believe that, but “racing to win” is a motivation used by nearly everyone in sport. I can also add an entirely different toll on your brain and body. For one thing, I will have to cut at least 20 minutes off a pretty good time (5:16) from my first trip to Muncie.
But that added pressure has me the most excited I’ve been for a race since my first Ironman at Wisconsin. I’ve been focused (for me) and even opted out of 3 shorter races to stay focused on my training plan.
In many ways “wanting to win” is the ultimate test of racing against yourself. For months you build challenging moments into the training. Moments that will test your will make you familiar with the pain when it comes. So, when I say I’m racing for the podium, what I really mean is that race is happening now.
It’s far from training for the Heavyweight Championship of the World, but motivation is relative. There’s another level of fuel burning and it’s pretty cool.
I totally get the concept of training to feel better, but in all honestly, if I simply wanted to “feel great” (especially in a Zen sort of way) I wouldn’t be training for an Ironman. It’s physically, emotionally, and spiritually draining. Probably overkill in the grand scheme of wellness.
So, the competitor comes alive.
I have looked at who is racing Muncie and checked the last few years to see if the top finishers are coming back. It doesn’t really matter because every race is different, and who knows who will show up, but it’s kinda fun, and frankly, that’s what I need right now.
I’ve sliced this scenario in every way possible and it will take the perfect race. Finishing a 70.3 is definitely a major accomplishment, but I’m treating Muncie like my rematch with “Buster” Douglas.
Motivation has to come from somewhere. I suppose it could be saving the world, but I’ve kinda turned that one over to a power higher than me.
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