15 years ago it was running marathons and half marathons. Now its doing all manner of triathlons, from super sprint introductory races all the way through to Ironman. What is it that drives us to take on these events, these challenges of superhuman efforts?
Why Do We Choose Triathlon?
For some it’s a drunken bet or agreement with a group of friends. For a few, it’s a different way to lose weight. Occasionally it’s to try something completely different. Possibly most importantly, it’s a challenge with yourself.
Triathlon always attracts admiration because it involves three separate disciplines at its most basic level (the deeper you go – and the faster you attempt to go – the more complex it can become). Even at the top elite level, athletes are never equally strong across the swim, bike and run. For most, the swim holds the fear. I can’t swim – the usual refrain. The bike is an interesting proposition. It scares people on different levels. Struggling up hills or scared going downhill. Is my bike good enough. For the majority of people who read this site, the bike won’t hold any fears! My father raced his first triathlon 2 years back on his racing bike from 30 years ago – having not ridden up until 4months before! Finally the run; people tend to either fear the swim or the run, very rarely both. It is this challenge of the disciplines which makes triathlon more attractive than running alone.
Triathlon and endurance sports in general often require us to push our limits, or more realistically, challenge us to find our limits. I’m convinced, more and more, that most of us have no idea what our actual physical limits are. That is one of the things I love most about triathlon. I love surprising myself. However, that surprise doesn’t come easily, and typically requires just as much mental fortitude as it does physical fortitude. I have learned more and more that I must be willing to suffer in certain aspects of my training.
Training for a triathlon transports you into another world of self-growth. You will meet like-minded people who enjoy individual sports on a highly personal level. Whether you are a young twenty-year old just starting out, or a grandparent, you can participate in a triathlon and become a world-class professional. Training for a triathlon is highly motivating and inspiring, increasing your sense of purpose in the world, while pushing you to be the best that you can be. You will find significant improvement in every aspect of your life from the discipline, focus, new energy, enthusiasm, and love that you put into your training, which will now flow into everything else in your life.
As the triathlete Dave Scott said, “If you set a goal for yourself and are able to achieve it, you have won your race. Your goal can be to come in first, to improve your performance, or just finish the race; it’s up to you.”
In short, humans as a species look to push boundaries, get outside of our comfort zone. Whether it’s attempting to perfect that third (or possibly second and third!) discipline, overcoming a fear, or going longer and harder than ever before, we are all looking for that enlightenment and joyous feeling of crossing a finish line achieving some or hopefully all of our goals.
For me – I started because my then girlfriend suggested it. It meant that I could eat what I liked (and still does!). As an ex swimmer, learning to run was a big hurdle for me, or learning to enjoy it and not feel like it was a pain every time! Now, its a constant source of frustration, trying to improve. But that frustration for me is a good thing, it shows that I care about what I do, and I thoroughly enjoy getting out and training even in the worst conditions. I still enjoy that piece of cake at the end though – even if I am racing at a higher level now!
Whatever you do, if you’re not enjoying your training, have a think about what it is that drives you. Think about why you are doing it all in the first place. Then do it with a smile on your face. We aren’t pro’s, we don’t get paid for it. So enjoy yourself!