I want to discuss a common occurrence that happens when training for endurance events or adventure challenges.

When I mention a bad session in this context, I am not meaning our heart rate was off, or we had some muscular fatigue, I am referring to that big session that goes very wrong and leaves us questioning what we are doing and makes us just want to sack it all off and quit.

I will use a recent example from one of my Ultra Endurance/Adventure athletes (No names)

The scale of this athletes goal is shall we say huge, so the training sessions are long and tough. The athlete headed out for 3 days consecutively riding and bivi between each day, fully self-supported.

The athlete had stomach issues on day one and missed planned distance, suffered lack of sleep for the two nights out, and had equipment failures while riding. All they wanted to do was quit and given that they weren’t so far from home, could have easily gone back to a nice bed, good food and lots of comfort.

When the rider sent me their evaluation of the three days, it was pretty clear they’d had a bad 3 days. Whilst everything went wrong, one thing did go perfectly- this one thing being the corner stone to Ultra events (in this case months in length)…

The rider did not quit. No matter how many setbacks, they kept moving forward.

In their evaluation they did not once mention this, yet once we discussed it they realised that this horrible failure of a session, in their eyes, was in fact the most important 3 days yet in their training.

Breaking this down, not only did they have the physical ability to keep going when physically things were at there hardest, they had the mental strength to keep moving.

Now, how we deal with discomfort is such an important part of these kind of adventures. We don’t have to be David Goggins and run-on broken bones, but we need to build an understanding of the importance of “hey I’m still moving forward so this is actually pretty damn good”. We need to forget all the negatives and focus on something so much more important and powerful – PROGRESS.

It is very easy to let negatives and failures rack up and take over mind and outlook. This case shows even though the rider did not quit and overcame, the focus is on all the bad!

All I am saying is, don’t put these sessions/days down as bad, they are in fact your biggest successes and bring the most growth to us as people and athletes.

As a coach, I have now set this rider a similar but slightly harder session to go and re-visit the bad as I know it will bring the growth required to cope with the end goal.

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