Prepping for 'The BIG Show'

by Jukka Valkonen August 29, 2016 2 min read

Prepping for 'The BIG Show'

Have you taken the pause in life to reflect on the frequency you do something? Do you train every day? Do you train several times a week? How often do you rest, including taking several days off on a regular basis? How often do you participate in some sort of race? When you see and read about ultra endurance athletes performing some super human feat like multiple marathons or triathlons, do you feel compelled to do more than what you currently do? If so, and if you were to give yourself the gift of time to reflect, what would you see? Would you accept it?

Several years ago, I made the commitment to focus on one race yearly – the ITU Cross Tri World Championship. Other than Nationals which are a requirement to qualify for Team USA and the WC, all other races are somewhat meaningless to me. That said, no special preparations are made, including tapering, and no added stress. They are just purely for training and fun. This also means, I do very few. Perhaps 3-4 and these are either Sprint or Olympic distances, not half Ironman, or Ironman. For variety and skills development, along with pure zaniness, I like to throw in cyclocross and mountain bike racing. While my physical, emotional, and bank accounts grow with deposits, other athletes I know are racing as if the food on their tables depends on it.

Many triathletes smitten with Ironman fever, dream of glowing with the punishment Kona will dole out. Most will target a qualifying race which has the slots and course that should favor them. However, I see all too often disappointment. This I attribute to trying to do too much, not getting focused for the Big Show, thus leaving too much to unreliable friends like Hope and Luck. Then there are “new friends” like the Social Media apps, that love to be distractions and suck energy. Remember, QOMs, KOMs, etc., are meaningless in training, and totally meaningless in a triathlon. All that matters is when your chest crosses the finish line.

Just like a musical or theatrical performance, The Big Show requires full dedication and focus.

During the early months of the year, your images and thoughts will be more abstract. However, as you conduct your research of the course and data, looking at videos, Google Maps, images, and as your training plan develops with laser focus, the images and even dreams will become very real. A couple months out, you will be able to perfectly visualize yourself executing your race day plan on the course. Even the events and motions of your travel will seem real. During the months of prep you will have developed an acumen for the weather, food, culture, environment, people, etc. Very little, if anything, will be a surprise.

Perhaps a new resolution you can try for 2017 and forward,

“I will do one thing really, really well this year. It will be my Big Show.”

Then, when the time comes, Hope is cheering you on, eating popcorn, and Luck is riding on your handlebars hooting into the wind.

Jukka Valkonen
Jukka Valkonen

As the athlete ages, the years of training has provided a solid mental and physical base to draw from. However, "quality" becomes so important regarding training sessions, recovery, and nutrition. I've been taking MAP every day, and every race since 2003. Now being in my 40s, I am a consistently faster, stronger, and durable athlete than I was in my 20s and 30s. My old injuries flare up less, and I don't experience new injuries. My immune system is stronger, I sleep better, thus I am able to train more intensely every day than I did prior to MAP. I also compete year-round, and have more consistent podium finishes. MAP is not a supplement for me, rather, it's an integral part of a healthy, balanced diet.


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