AIDS and BLAHS

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By Bob Byard
Certified USA-Triathlon Coach and Fitness Trainer

As the 2005 season progresses, I have a confession to make to everyone I know -- I’ve had recurring AIDS and sometimes have had relapses of the BLAHS in the past. But I’ve learned how to become immune to these “illnesses”. I know that others of you have or will have suffered at least from one of these, but there is a remedy. The symptoms are treatable and sickness is preventable; you just have to be proactive to prevent their onset or recurrence during the rest of this season of training and racing. Before you panic about my medical condition, relax and read on.

For these maladies, AIDS stands for After Ironman Depression Syndrome (I just completed IM Lanzarote, #11). If not AIDS, you’ve probably had a similarly debilitating condition after any distance competition and it’s called BLAHS: the feelings and reflections of being Beaten, Lazy, Agitated, Helpless, and/or Stumped. It reflects your athletic efforts and achievements thus far in the season. AIDS and BLAHS can be treated the same way-- by evaluating the season so far and reflecting back on what did (and didn’t) happen in ’05. It enables us to adjust and develop a better focus on a game plan for the rest of the year. Answer the following questions truthfully and you’ll probably discover ways to improve in 2005.

Did the 2004 season turn out the way you planned? And that’s a key word: PLAN. Did you have one, and did you keep a training log, review it routinely and adjust it for injuries, goal changes, and unanticipated factors? A training and race plan shouldn’t be in stone; make adjustment changes when needed. Swallow this vitamin:

Have a systematic, methodical plan for mixing the intensity, frequency, and duration of workouts. Write out athletic goals for 2005. Put them somewhere you’ll see them everyday. Tell everyone. Commit to achieve.

Was last season’s training well throughout? Train smart. Were your aspirations too high or did you underestimate your abilities? Did you build, plateau, peak and taper properly? Did your own stubbornness cause or extend injuries? Take this “mineral”:

Use a heart rate monitor, but don’t be its slave. Know your limitations and strengths; train to improve on both. Train with someone with similar goals and abilities. Seek help and ask questions.

How were your finishing times so far this season? Were you satisfied with your race performance or generic training progress? Hey, lighten up! ENJOY YOURSELF. We are all competitive, if not in our age group, at least within ourselves. The world won’t end when you don’t live up to your own expectations (trust me on this one). Don’t beat yourself up with negative feedback - - focus on what went well last year, this season so far, and what you’ve learned - - use it in the next training session, every race, throughout 2005. Hopefully in every instance, you’ll have good memories and made new friends. Chew this supplement:

Lighten up. Have fun. Enjoy the experiences of new places, new challenges. Relax; savor the personal development, the achievements, and the learning. Life is short. Eat dessert first.

Whatever your aspirations for training or racing in 2005, approach the year with a better focus on beating or avoiding AIDS and the BLAHS - - start taking your medicine now! Identify where you’re at physically and emotionally now, define what you realistically want to be at specific times during 2005, and focus on what you want to strive for and achieve.

Realistically plan, review progress, make adjustments, and enjoy yourself. There’s enough dessert for seconds...Train smart and stay safe.

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The world won’t end when you don’t live up to your own expectations.