Sometimes you just need a really stupid goal

Sometimes you just need a really stupid goal to get you motivated. Enter the Hyrox

Goal setting is a topic I have written and spoken about for many years and it’s often in the context of how to approach them, or how to structure them. In all these cases I nearly always talk about the importance of being realistic when selecting your goal and not overreaching on day one.
While all of this is true there is another and sometimes more powerful way to set a goal but it’s not for the faint-hearted and flat out won’t work if you don’t bring everything you have to it from the outset. Enter the power of a really stupid goal, or to be a bit more technical, know when to go BIG with your goal setting.

There are a few examples of this type of goal in my past such as deciding to enter my first Ironman while my leg was still in plaster. My now-wife Kirsty came back to my flat and informed me that our friends were signing up for Ironman in just under a year’s time and did I think we should enter too. Considering my reckless attempts at doing a dumbbell chest press on a stability ball while balancing my cast on the sofa earlier that day had almost ended in another visit to the hospital an Ironman event could not have been further from my mind at the time. True I would have ten months to train but it’s not the base you would hope for. Despite this, we both entered, and it focussed my mind and eased my frustrations at not training while I recovered as I knew I had plenty of that heading my way soon enough.

Ironman like the marathon, or maybe even your first 10K becomes an event that consumes much of your thinking each day and it forces the best out of you as adapt and learn how to train smarter and more efficiently. Entering a marathon or an Ironman is a really big goal, and I don’t know how much I really thought about entering the race specifically, if I did, I don’t think I would have done it. After all, who thinks swimming 2.4 miles, cycling 112 miles, and then running a marathon on the same day is a smart goal choice? No, this is a really stupid goal.
Jump forward to 2022 and I had just completed the Hampton Court Half Marathon my first since the pandemic. I enjoyed this event a lot but was left feeling a bit flat afterward. A few weeks later two clients ask me about a new type of fitness race called the Hyrox, something I had not heard of previously but use a mix of running and station-based exercises interspersed in between. Keen to learn more I did some research and suddenly found myself staring at another big stupid goal that I was struggling to resist. So, I entered…

The Hyrox is like a cross between an obstacle course race, Crossfit, and a running race, but also not really like any of them at the same time. Set inside a large warehouse you complete a series of 1 Kilometre runs followed by one of eight different stations or exercises before setting off on your next run. The stations include rowing, lunges, burpees, sled pushes and pulls, wall ball (squat throws with a ball), ski-erg and farmers carry (walking with weights). Each station has a pre-set distance to cover before heading out on the next run and your accumulative time makes up your race finish time. Each wave is set off as a mix of competitors, so you also have no idea how you are doing against your competitors as you would in a traditional race.

So why did I enter?

The Hyrox is a fairly stupid goal by all accounts. It takes around an hour and a half to complete on average and the mix of skills needed makes this a very challenging event to do well at. The order of events makes it easy to overcook yourself early on into the race which could easily make the second half very unpleasant. Again, so why enter? The answer to this is the same reason as running your first 5K, completing your first marathon, or crossing the finish line on an Ironman, you enter to see if you can do it.

I have spent many years racing endurance events and as much as I love it, the magic of crossing the line has faded because I know that I can. This might seem arrogant but when you know you will cross the finish line and you know how to train for an event it does take some of the fun out of it. With the Hyrox I am a beginner again and that makes you hungry to learn and do well. Many of the movements in each exercise have a specific element to them that is unique to Hyrox, often how they are ordered and layered on top of each other. While I bring a history of endurance to this event my strength training background is sport-specific and not of the same level required to push and pull the heavy sled, perform the weighted lunges or grip the heavy kettlebells for the farmers carry. Equally, running before and after each of these is also going to be a very different challenge. Breaking this event down, planning out the training plan, and getting in the gym for some new and tricky sessions is proving to be a lot of fun and my consistency of training has improved far more than when I did the half marathon earlier in the year as I always knew I would cross the line.

My Hyrox event will be this coming November 2022 and I’m excited to take on something new, however, I am equally nervous and unsure about how it will pan out and this feeling is what is driving me forward. The power of a really stupid, or really big goal is sometimes the goal you really need to push you out of your comfort zone and get you back on track.

Andy Strong

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