Winning and Losing.

Winning and Losing. Goals and Milestones.

Ironman Chattanooga 2016

Today the concept of winners and losers has begun to fade for all but a few. We have been told everyone wins. We have softened the blow by telling losers, “you did good” or “you gave it your best”. Participation trophies are everywhere. Do this race and get a finisher medal. Triathlons, Marathons, Obstacle courses, even bicycle races give everyone who finishes a medal. The truth is most everyone there is a winner because they set a goal and achieved it. The question, “Is that all you got?” (The Grind)

I started training for an Ironman a few years ago, with the goal of finishing the race. I finished the race well within the cutoff time limit. The next year I did a different race, again with the goal of finishing, which I did; however, after seemingly training harder, I finished slower. I decided I needed to work on my run since I fell apart during the run portions of both events. I only focused on running the next year. I completed a marathon in 3:44:43. Prior to that, I set a goal of finishing in under 3:45. Later the same year I ran 55KM Ultra, with a goal of finishing and hanging out with friends. The cutoff for that one was 12 hours, I finished in 11:55. The lesson here is to set a goal for what winning means to you and be willing to lose if you don’t make it. When I set a goal of finishing, that is exactly what I did, I finished so that was winning. I suppose if I didn’t finish the race within the allotted time, I would have lost, but barring catastrophe, that wasn’t likely. Long story to say, if you don’t have a chance of losing, are you ever winning?

In order to succeed one needs to set hard goals that require striving and doing your best to get there. If you don’t meet the goal you were trying to, then you lost, plain and simple. The good news of this, you will have gotten much further than you ever would have by setting easily achievable goals. If you know you can achieve the goal, it isn’t a goal, it is a milestone at best.

There is a saying I heard when I was growing up, “Aim for the stars, shoot for the moon.” Like many things I heard growing up, I either didn’t know at the time it was important, or I didn’t understand the real meaning. After reading Eric Orton’s book the Cool Impossible, I went to his running camp, which was amazing and a story for another time. The key Eric points out is what is your Cool Impossible? What do you want to do that is impossible that would be so cool if you did it? All that training and I still didn’t understand what I was being told.

Joe Sulak from Peak Fitness is my coach and said if I do it he will get me there. Today as I prepare for a hard training session for another Ironman, with a cool impossible goal of finishing in 9:30, I am literally aiming for the stars and shooting for the moon. All I really want is to qualify for the world championships. The other competitors on race day have a say in how that goes, so for me winning is doing the best I can do having trained for a 9:30 finish time. (By the way, all the research I’ve done indicates that is the winning time for my age group.) Even if I lose by a few minutes I still stand a good chance of getting that coveted slot to the world championships. So what is your goal today? Or as Eric says, “What is your Cool Impossible?”

Visit Eric Orton at The Mountain Running academy is great for learning the basics of running and advancing an already seasoned athlete.

Quote from: Rise and Shine — Welcome to the Grind
Also, check out Joe Sulak at for great triathlon coaching.