by Greg Carefoot
I am not writing this with any coaching background. Nor am I a wily veteran of the sport (this is only my third year). But, I will share with you what I have found works for me: stay in the BOX. For many of us, especially those of you new and relatively new to the sport, we are already pushing our comfort zone by participating in this sport. We are achieving a goal or a dream just by getting to the start line.
For many of us, getting to the start line is a step beyond our comfort zone
The box I am referring to is your comfort zone as it is related to your ability level and your target. The box is where you should be whether you are training or racing. Staying in the box is key to accomplishing your goals and finishing the race. At least it has been for me in training for and completing 2 Olympic triathlons, 2 Ironman, and now 1 Sprint triathlon.
Staying in your box is important in training sessions because only you know what you are trying to
accomplish with each work out. Is it your long day, your tempo run, or just a recovery day? You know what needs to be done and you need to put the blinders on and do it. It does not matter if someone runs past you that you are sure you are faster than. They might only be doing 3 miles and you still have 10 to go.
If you chase them down because you left your box, there goes the point of the long base run. I cannot tell you how many times this happens out there training with certain friends of mine who feel that it is their mission to track down each and every runner/cyclist in front of them. The consequence can be that you mess up your next work out.
The box is very important in racing as well. You need to swim the swim you should, and ride the bike you should, knowing that you have a run at the end of it all. It is hard in a race with the adrenaline pumping and race atmosphere everywhere to let someone go past you with that same age group scrawled on their calf. However, tracking them down could wear you out and you end up hitting the dreaded “wall”. It is much better to stay in your box, whether that means to the next aide station or the next light post than to “bonk”. My mantra that I had running through my head during the 2 Ironman events that I completed was “keep it comfortable”.
I was able to keep inside my box in Ironman Florida to each aide station. At Ironman Louisville with the 100 degree heat and humidity my box shrunk considerably but I finished and no medical tent!
Greg at the finish line at Ironman Florida.
This may not be the best strategy for everyone, but it does work and has made me successful. My goal is to keep enjoying this sport, to keep participating in it for a long time. If I can avoid injury and not over train by staying in my BOX then it is worthwhile.