This is the last part in a series of 8 lessons learned from our first medium distance sleddog race. To start from the beginning, click here.
Eventually, I think there are two ways to get better at any sport. You can train until you’ve got everything together. Or you can, with basic safeguards, help from others and responsible consideration, take your chances and learn on the race tracks.
I figured this out some years ago when I practised Bazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I was a white belt rookie when I signed up for my first Finnish Opens. I lost hard, but what I gained was valuable: I learned what it was to compete, and after that, I was able to mentally approach training in a completely different manner: I do not try to win training, just condition mentally and physically.
The logic does not carry over directly to mushing, but the same elements are there. Training should be fun, even if hard. It’s not just OK to fail in training, it is infinitely preferable to do so, rather than to fail in a race. Racing should be something where you can give everything. I think we did just that.
Lesson learned: Participating in a medium distance race taught me more about sleddogs than all of my previous experience put together.
Anyways, thank you for reading! I have been really happy to see that we have had visitors reading about our mishaps and lessons learned from three different continents and at least a dozen different countries. I hope I have been able to share something of value and would appreciate hearing from you if I did! Take care, and keep on mushing!
(P.S: I am not saying this way is the best or only way to learn. Depending on your personality, you may have a higher or lower risk preference than I do, and should adjust your approach accordingly.)