So my past two triathlon seasons I didn’t actually TRAIN for my races. Oh I put in a session here and there, showed up for a group test race or two but ultimately, there was no consistency or plan. Everything else in life took priority. Why? Because I firmly held the belief that I was not, and could not, be a “real” athlete…triathlete or otherwise. It’s really convenient to laugh off a race with “Of course it was slow…I didn’t even train!” when you’re convinced that even if you HAD trained, it wouldn’t be any better. And yet, I kept signing up for 5ks & triathlons…all while saying I wasn’t an athlete. I would have called out anyone else as a liar. YES, you ARE an triathlete (or athlete). You completed a swim/bike/run (or whatever distance run or bike or whatever). I don’t care what distance you completed or what place you ranked. You completed it. But me? Nope. I didn’t complete it well….I didn’t even TRAIN. So I’m not. I can’t be an athlete…have you MET me?
This year something clicked. Maybe it was turning 40 and not caring if I look “nice” or “ladylike” after a hard run, or while trying to pull myself out of a pool after 1200 yards. Maybe I was finally tired of rationalizing or the recognition that I feared my definition of failure. Maybe it was all of the above. But I started training regularly. I downloaded a plan and (mostly) stuck to it. I’ve been to every group session possible, even sacrificing events with friends to be in the pool with someone that can say “Hey, try breathing every two strokes instead of four and see how that helps.” (spoiler alert – a LOT) or giving up time at home so I can do a group ride/run and hear “You look really good off the bike this year.” Whatever it is, the fact is that a notable portion of my life is occupied by triathlon related activities. Every day this week I have biked, ran, swam or slept 11 hours straight. (Yes – the sleeping is triathlon related. It’s called recovery. Duh.) And you know what? I feel stronger and faster overall. I gained confidence on the bike, then promptly had my first “incident” but bounced right back up with no injuries to show for it except a gnarly bruise on my hip. I have felt like I was swimming through concrete only to have two amazingly strong sessions the following week. I have left a run feeling powerful only to finish one the next day whimpering and shaky but recovered quickly
I might still have slow races but it won’t be for lack of training. That being said, I have yet to sign up for what I want to be my “A” race. I keep telling myself it’s because I’m considering the cost but I have to wonder if that’s another lie I’m telling myself. Cause it scares me a bit. A lot. Most of my friends aren’t actually doing it. The bike course is not flat. There are TWO transition areas to set up. It’s intimidating. But ultimately those are excuses, right? And if I’m going to embrace the triathlete piece of my identity, that means dispensing with those excuses.