My journey towards my adventure race started on a trip to Chicago to visit some friends. I knew I needed to start training, but I didn’t know where to start or what my training plan should look like. I was hanging out with my Chicago buddy Michelle who also happens to be an exercise physiologist. We sat down together and she asked me what my goals were for the event. At that point my goals were:
- Get through the event with a strong back (I had a previous back injury so I knew that in order to get to the start line, I had to be smart about taking care of my back).
- Have a set training plan so I would feel strong and prepared for the event.
- Finish the event in under 4 hours.
After we talked about my goals, she set me up with an overall plan of what my training should look like – how often I should be running, biking, and strength training as well as what the hours and intensity would look like in the weeks leading up to my event. I went home excited to start. My first month of training went without a hitch. Then I realized I needed to do some tweaking to the plan. I asked my husband to help me to take my plan to Phase II. He took the plan I got from Michelle and we sat down and figured out how to make it more specific so that each week I knew exactly what I needed to do. I was training for a long road bike event as well as the adventure race, so he helped me figure out how much time I needed on the road bike and how much time I needed on the mountain bike. He also supported me by being my training buddy and was always willing to go out on my training rides with me.
My point in all of this is that without their support – I couldn’t have had the amazing experience I did on the day of my event. When you are working towards your athletic goals, you need a good support system behind you. Here are the different types of support you will need when working towards a goal:
Informational – This kind of support comes in the form of providing information and advice. Having a coach set you up with a training plan, getting a good bike fit from a professional… these are examples of informational support.
Emotional – Emotional support comes in the form of empathy and concern. Having someone who will listen when you need to talk about frustrations with your training schedule or you’re feeling disappointed with the outcome of a certain event – this an example of emotional support.
Tangible – This kind of support comes in the form of assistance. Having my husband change my flat tire because he is faster than me and it would mean the difference in losing 30 minutes of riding time is an example of tangible support! Another example might be having someone to watch your kids or make dinner on a night so you can get your training in.
Motivational – Motivational support comes in the form of encouragement. Having people that believe in your ability to accomplish your goal and encourage your efforts.
Some of the forms of support above will come from getting professional help and some will come from your teammates, family, and friends. People who are successful with their goals have sources of support from each category. If you find that you are deficient in a category – you need to seek out that support. Sometimes people will offer their help, but sometimes you have to ask for it. Figure out what kind of support you need in order to accomplish your goals. Reaching out for support can be difficult for some people. We live in a culture that values individual strength and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps… some of us are uncomfortable asking others for support, but some of us have just forgotten how to do it. You need to embrace the idea that it takes a team of support to help you reach your potential. Don’t assume people will offer their help, many times they are just waiting for you to ask. If you are working towards a goal, take responsibility for creating the support system you will need in order to accomplish that goal and then go celebrate together when you accomplish it!