Friday, March 21, 2014

Why long distance triathlon and I are on a break ...

Did you ever meet someone with an addictive personality?

Who am I kidding? If you are reading this you probably have an addictive personality. Those who get involved with endurance sports, don't do it for the leisure time. Or the spontaneity. We venture into this mythical world looking for a challenge. We stay because we are addicted to some aspect of the sport. Maybe it's the feeling of pushing yourself further than you did last time. Maybe it's the chase of a new PR. Maybe it's the overwhelming love of self-torture. Over time, your reason may change, but it's all the same - we stay because the thought of leaving (for good at least) is hard to deal with. There is always something pulling you back in.

For a long time, I have been drawn to endurance sports as a way of proving to myself (and if we're being honest, those around me) that no challenge was too great. If that guy over there could do it, so could I. And that's fantastic. It got me moving. It made me train. But eventually, you run out of "next big things". At some point, you have to ask yourself why you do the things you do. And even tougher, you might have to admit that your reasoning isn't valid.

By the end of last season, I realized that my training had lost it's purpose. I was racing "just because I could". I started to dread race day. And I hated how much time my training was taking away from my family. I hated the guilt I felt if I missed a workout. My hobby was having too much of an effect on my life. I needed to back away.

I started by taking an off-season and it made me realize a few things.
  • I really like to lift weights, yet it's always the first thing that gets cut when my training load increases.
  • I don't need a "goal" to get me to train. I love training. I love it a 1000 times more than I even like racing. If I was never to cross another finish line again, I would be fine with that. It wouldn't stop me from swimming, biking and running each week.
  • Speed isn't all that important to me. I used to get hung up on going faster and beating a younger version of myself. Well, guess what? If I run a 1:55 half marathon or a 2:02 half marathon, I still ran a half marathon. Those few minutes don't change me. I'm not a better or worse person because of it. And it's not like I was ever going to win the race anyway.
  • The pool is my favorite place to be. I constantly wish I had more time to get to the pool.
By the time 2014 started, I knew the direction my endurance sports (specifically triathlon) path would take me.

There would be no 140.6. It's a great goal, it's just not mine.

There would be no 70.3. I don't have the time, or honestly the drive, to train for this the way I want to. Life is about balance. And at this point in my life, I don't have the skill set necessary to balance 70.3 training and my commitment to my family.

I'm going to race strategically. Three sprint triathlons, spread over 6 months. One Olympic triathlon as my "A" race. One fall marathon - because as much as marathoning wiped me out in 2011 (3 marathons in 6 months will do that to you - see? Addiction. It's hard to break). I miss training for that distance and I REALLY WANT TO DO IT.

And that's what it comes down to. You have to really want to do something for you to do it well and for you to feel like nothing else was sacrificed. I'm done sacrificing. And for now, long distance triathlon and I are on a break. Maybe one day we'll reunite. Maybe this is the end. Either way, I know it's the right choice for me.


Jill said...

Amen, amen and AMEN! This is all so true! I have really thought about the whole PR thing and thought why does it mater if I shave a few minutes it's harder more pressure and what does it change? Nothing, I still ran the distance which is the awesome part. And the 140.6, agree as well...I love triathlons, love it, but I've realized I might not ever have the want bad enough for the full ironman, but sprints and Olympics are perfect, fun and they don't take over my life. Thanks for this post!

One Crazy Penguin said...

Kudos to you for good introspection! I feel like a lot of people get caught up and forget to check if they are still enjoying themselves and their current goals. It;s okay to not want to do a 140.6 and focus of shorter races. It doesn't diminish anything. If anything, it makes everything better since you are doing what you actually want!