Following the Fundamentals

conductor.jpgI once completed an IronMan triathon. The next question most people ask is “How long was that?” I respond – “a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile ride, and a 26.2 mile run.” They then ask “Over how many days?”

No-one believes me when I tell them that the biggest issue in completing an endurance event is not fitness, but time management. I then silently think to myself that they could do one also, with the right habits.

Another fact they are unaware of is that ultra-distance sports require an ability to manage several disciplines at once, in addition to the more obvious running, swimming, cycling and transitioning.

Invisible to the casual observer is the practice of managing the following fundamental components:

  1. Hydration – making sure the body is not losing water too quickly
  2. Carbohydrates – ensuring that energy is being provided by eating and drinking
  3. Gastrointestinal – watching the intake of food/drink so as to prevent a nasty back-up
  4. Muscles – avoiding injury and excess fatigue
  5. Electrolytes – keeping potassium and sodium levels up to prevent cramping
  6. Heart rate – keeping it in the aerobic zone
  7. Body heat – too much heat or cold can be the beginning of the end
  8. Injuries – watching for mid-race overuse injuries like plantar fasciitis, or crotch-chafe, to one-off injuries like a slightly sprained ankle or a bruised heel
  9. Inspiration – something will go wrong in the race… chances are… and being in the right frame of mind to respond makes the difference between sticking it out, and dropping out

There may be others, but these are the ones I recall from my 17 hour, gastrically-challenged episode. To complete an endurance event requires the management of multiple tracks all at the same time, much in the way that a conductor must manage many instruments at once to produce a beautiful sound.

2Time is similar, in that the 11 fundamental practices must all be managed together in the typical day. Any component that is left to languish will eventually bring the entire system down, resulting in emergencies that must be addressed to prevent a complete collapse.