Now is the time of year that so many people are looking at their calendars and ironing out what their plans are for the next 3 months, 6 months or for some the next several years. Depending up what your goal is and what your level of experience is drastically determines the path that many will take. You don’t see too many people go out for their first run, ride or swim and say I am going to go for an Olympic gold in the next Olympic Games. This is one of those things that some spend multiple years if not a decade or more preparing for with the proper training, nutrition, lifestyle and focus to get to that point. Much like the Olympic Gold medalist we as weekend warriors or age group athletes need to be realistic with our goals. Some organizations have systems in place to help bring many individuals down to reality, however, there are some that are not set up that way and often end up leaving people ill prepared for an event that is way over their head. Ten to fifteen years ago I would have said that this was marathons with people getting injured with the distance or even the extreme circumstances of death because of their lack of preparation. Many people are still looking at Marathons as a “bucket list” item but there seems to be a large shift to triathlons due to the sheer number that have become available and the massive population of triathletes and the amount triathlon is publicized this seems to be the newest “bucket list” item. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think triathlons are an amazing thing for many people whether you are racing or participating it is a great motivation for many to become active. My bigger concern is the over glamorization of the event in the sense that you see a lot of the very inspirational moments on race day. From the winners crossing the line in record time, the masters competitors pushing their bodies to even the double below the knee amputee who finishes his first Ironman many are lead to sign up for the event. The thing that is not shown, much like the gold medalist, is the great deal of preparation done by all of these individuals and that they have worked long and hard to make it to where they are today. There have been countless hours put in staring at the bottom of a pool at 5:30 in the morning for a masters swim, endless hours dazing as they tap out time on the trainer and an endless number of shoes worn out pounding on the pavement. The most important thing though is the progression that so many of these individuals have made to get to this point. Many and hopefully most started modestly with a sprint triathlon, working to an Olympic distance and then maybe into a half IM to finally reach a full IM distance and then better yet, they did well enough to qualify for the most prestigious triathlon event of all, Kona. So, as you sit down to consider your event schedule for the year think about your progression of events and be realistic. If you have swam your whole life but never ridden a bike without training wheels or run to the end of the street don’t sign up for an Ironman this year or if you have been on walks with your dog a few times don’t sign up to do an Ultramarathon in the fall. Learn the skills of your sport(s) first and what it takes to get to the point you need to be at and then make that decision of your progression. Not only will it help to keep you grounded but more importantly it will help to make your event much more enjoyable and keep you wanting to come back for more.