I've been thinking about the above saying a lot lately. Thinking about dreams and hustling. Training and tiredness. Numbers and fun...or lack thereof. I set out on an Ironman journey in 2010 and have never looked back. I love the distance, the training, the commitment. Ironman has made me. Changed me. Transformed me. It's who I am, what I live, what I know, and most importantly...what I love.
When I set out to do my first triathlon in 2009, I was scared. REALLY REALLY scared. I knew I wanted it though, I needed it to pull me out of the rut of my 9-5 job and a life with hardly any exercise. I decided to brave it up and enter a sprint triathlon. I was as scared as if it were an Ironman distance. I didn't know any triathletes, I didn't know how to train and I certainly had no idea how I would even make it through. I had never heard of GPS devices, a power meter or anything else of the nature. What I did know, was that I wanted to do a triathlon more than anything. I wanted to become a triathlete. I wanted to swim, bike and run. I needed it. I had to do it. The resources then were certainly nothing like what's out there today and neither were all the gadgets. There were no Facebook groups, no triathlon articles flooding my news feed. I didn't even have Facebook then.
All I knew was that I was in love with the idea of triathlon. If I could put myself in the water, then hop on a bike and run to that finish, it would be a success. That's it. Simply to just put the three ingredients together and make it to the line. And, I did it. I finished. It was amazing. I never thought about where I finished that day. I never cared who was ahead of me or behind me. I just had fun and the joy was ALL in that finish. When I crossed the finish, I felt like I had just summited Everest. I was on Cloud 9 and knew that I had found my 'thing'. I probably carried a smile around for a whole week and that was just the beginning. I fell in love with triathlon and I've never looked back.
Somewhere along the journey though, I began to overcomplicate things. With the introduction to gadgets, strava, facebook groups, article after article about triathlon training, things started to change for me. After a few years in the sport and becoming more 'seasoned', I began to analyze every single detail. Eight Ironman's later and I was starting to feel miserable. I lost the joy. I lost that feeling I once had so many years ago. WHY? I really had to dig deep to figure it out, but the answer was so simple. I had become too focused on numbers, pace, power, cadence, diet, fellow competitors, the wind speed, the temperature and humidity level on training sessions...the list goes on and on and on. I began to fall out of love with the one thing that made my heart sing so many years ago.
All of those things floating around in my brain during every training session started to rob me of the simple joy of going for a run. My workouts soon began to feel more like torture sessions. Instead of embracing how amazing it was to feel the wind in my hair on a bike ride, I began to analyze wind directions and many times, I would even swear out loud at the wind!! That %&$#? headwind! There I was, overcomplicating, overanalyzing, over everything and not enjoying any of it.
The solution- I've had to take a step back with the numbers game and remind myself why I started triathlon. I have to work everyday to not overthink it all. It isn't always easy, but I am trying to get back to the basics. Coach has even robbed my of my precious Polar V800 on my runs, only allowing me to run with heart rate and time. No pace...whaaaaat? It's time for me to chill out on the numbers and his tactic is really working. I am starting to love running again.
Sometimes in our sport, I think we sometimes tend to overcomplicate the simple things. Sometimes it's nice to just get back to basics and remember why we began our journey in the first place. When we first start a new project or start to chase a dream, we are so full of energy and ambition. When you decide to up your game though, sometimes the real stress begins. The numbers game begins and it can start to drain you from the things that got you going in the first place. Being ambitious and chasing dreams is great, but having fun along the way is also important.
If you’ve decided to go down the path of chasing your triathlon dreams, then a BIG priority on your scale of things to do should be to remind yourself often why you started this process in the first place. You obviously felt something special about this sport, so there’s no reason you can’t remind yourself of this feeling from time to time. Like the saying goes...it's the journey and not the destination that most people end up remembering the most on their path to success anyway.
Hey... if success were easy, we would all be on the podium at Kona, right? Our goals aren't always easy to reach. We have to work at them. All triathletes, regardless of skill level, work really hard to accomplish their goals. Yes, there are times when the numbers are important, many times, but if we want to truly have a long and loving relationship with triathlon, then let's not forget to chill out sometimes and remember why we started. It's ok! So next time your head starts to swim faster than your arms can keep up in the pool, try to think back to that first time. Think about how far you've come and maybe even grin a little. They may think you're a little nuts from the pool deck, but hey- you are doing what you love to do and it shows.