Whilst he doesn't have it trademarked, a good mate of ours Matt Dixon (world renowned endurance coach and host of the excellent Purple Patch podcast) can often be heard extolling the virtues of having a BHAG in your life.
If you're not up on the acronym this is a 'Big Hairy Audacious Goal'; something to take you firmly out of your comfort zone and push you to the next level.
Given everything that's going on in the world, it'd be easy to talk ourselves into avoiding that this year, but as a team we've decided to each publicly commit to a BHAG so that we can motivate and support each other through them, and have some fun with it along the way.
Here's what we've signed ourselves up for and why...
Dom - A 125 mile canoe race in 24 hours or less (The Devizes to Westminster race). "This is a completely new sport for me and my first endurance challenge of any kind."
Jonny - 3 trail marathons in 3 days (The Jurassic Coast Challenge). "I've actually never run a marathon before, but I thought I’d push the boat out and try three in three days along the notoriously tough Jurassic coast! Here’s hoping the epic scenery provides some distraction from the pain. Bring it on!"
James - An XTERRA Off-road triathlon (ideally the European Champs in Germany). "Cross-country MTB racing is definitely a new skill for me to master! If travel allows, I want to race the European Champs in August and try to be amongst the best amateur athletes overall and within my age group."
Chris - A 54km ultra marathon (Maverick X Jurassic Coast). "I’ve never run further than a half marathon before, plus I’ve spent the last 6 months nursing a foot injury. Oh, and my wife and I are preparing to welcome Baby Knight into the world in April. He'll be 6 months old when the event comes around, so should be sleeping through the night by then, right? RIGHT?! I’m off to grow a beard so I can at least look like an ultrarunner when I get to the start line…"
Ali - A 3 race adventure series called Man v Trinity. "I watched Bear Grylls' World's Toughest Race on Amazon Prime and it made me really want to do an adventure race! This 3-dayer consists of a 25 mile coastal trail run, a 30 mile kayaking, swimming and running route (with 4,200ft of ascent) and a 22 mile trail run up to the top of Snowdon (5,055ft)."
Brad - A 200 mile bike ride from Montgomery, Alabama to Pensacola, Florida. "It'll be the longest ride I've ever done and it'll be a hot one. Why Pensacola? I just fancy going to the beach!"
Sam - My first triathlon (The Salty Sea Dog Sprint). "I can swim to a point, but this new discipline will be a huge challenge for me. Elsewhere, I'm shooting to dip my 5km run under the 21 min mark."
Greg - A full IRONMAN. "This is by far the furthest I will have ever gone and the run leg will be my first ever marathon."
Abby - A 25km trail run (Maverick Dorset). "This is further than I've covered on foot before and, as someone who avoids hills unless they're part of hill sprints (because I get to stop at the top), far more elevation than I'm used to. I'm hoping to be distracted by the lovely sea views..."
Dawn - A 25km hike (The Thames Bridges Trek). "This'll be my first ever organised event, I want to see what all the hype is about. 😉 The route takes in 16 of London's historic bridges and 25km will be the furthest I've walked in a long time."
Dave - A 100 mile bike ride. "I've never gone more than about 70 miles in a single ride and I'll be training for this almost exclusively on Zwift with a not-very-smart turbo trainer. There's also been chat about a few of us riding a full loop of the Isle of Wight, which would be an ideal training ride for me late on. My main goal is to do it faster than my dad. (He's been clocking some savage mileage in his retirement, so it'll be harder than it sounds!)."
Sean - Competing at the World Triathlon Champs, or a 50km trial run. "I qualified for the World Champs last year but they were obviously rescheduled for this year. An age-group podium remains my primary goal. But, as there's a real chance the event might not go ahead as planned, my backup is a 50km trail run somewhere here in British Columbia. It’s an uncomfortable distance for me, so that'd be putting myself out there."
Me - A 100km trail run (down the Stour Valley Way). "Exactly the kind of silly-length point to point run that my old running coach Paul Hart (who was born and died in Sturminster, near where the route starts) would have whole-heartedly approved of. There's a current FKT - 12 hours 55 minutes - held by someone I know well and used to train with years ago, which provides ample motivation! This is very much a stretch target for me as I've never run 100km before (c.85km being the longest, about 20 years ago!) so this is nudging me into the unknown..."
I was really stoked to see how enthusiastically the team responded to the idea of stepping outside their comfort zone by setting a BHAG. The banter's already been great, especially around #PHysFriday, where we've all been finishing early on Fridays to start the weekend with a decent training session.
Have you set a Big Hairy Audacious Goal this year? We'd love to hear about it and have created this quick survey to help us collect some interesting stories and data on how the PH community is planning to scare themselves s#1tless this year...