Short-Term Wins or Long-Term Victories?

I like having my cake and eating it too. Who doesn’t?! But unfortunately, we can’t always get what we want!

I was quite happy with aspects of my races at Gulf Coast 70.3 and Chattanooga 70.3 in May—strong swims in both, great progression in my biking, and bright spots in the runs. But there are still chinks in my armor, and I fell short of my goal to qualify at these races to compete in the elite field at the 2019 70.3 World Championships. Therefore, I faced a decision when it came to my racing season and triathlon career: strategically pursue a race (or races) in June in an attempt to qualify for Worlds this fall? Or take the long view and invest in a big training block this summer with the goal of another step progression before toeing the line again in the second half of the season?

Of course I wanted to be able to do both. But as Jim Collins explains in Good to Great (my current read! Highly recommend!), one of the several ways that the great companies differentiate themselves is by maintaining unwavering faith that they can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, and at the same time, have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of their current reality, whatever they may be.

My facts were: 

    • I had made a tangible step forward quantitatively (performance data) and qualitatively (in terms of confidence) in my March-April training block—I was closing the gap identified in 70.3 Geelong back in February; but

    • I still had a gap between my performance and that of the top women in the distance; and

    • If I had to choose, I would prefer to be consistently on the podium by the end of the season and focus on laying the foundation to be a top competitor in 2020 versus simply participating in 2019 worlds and compromising my progression in the process.

For me, this decision came down to winning a battle or the war. While short-term wins can certainly create momentum (and provide immediate satisfaction!), they don’t necessarily translate into long-term victories if they come at the cost of overall progress. And that is exactly what they would do based on my current “fact set.” As I confronted the facts, I knew that to achieve my goals in the distance—to be great—I needed to favor the progression I knew would come pairing patience with discipline and persistence versus seeking out that immediate satisfaction. 

So for the past month, I’ve had my head down. The day-to-day life of the professional triathlete is not particularly glamorous or exciting to most: it’s about executing sessions to achieve incremental gains day-in and day-out. It’s the perfect example of Thomas Edison’s famous quote: “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” But for me, that process brings both inspiration and excitement—it’s investing in those daily details and training sessions with laser focus that makes the progression so satisfying when you look back and see how far you’ve come and that, ultimately, enables you to exceed even your own expectations!

I have another month of training left until I toe the line again at IM 70.3 Santa Rosa. I’m focused on the present, taking one day at a time, but also can’t wait to test myself again at the end of the summer. I’m feeling like I have the right balance of short- and long-term goals in place and am truly excited for what the days and months ahead will bring, both in terms of internal growth and external race opportunities!