With all the hard training I did this year for triathlon, I was always in grave danger of beginning to view the swim, bike, and run as work and drudgery. This can lead to burnout and is a big reason why people exit the sport of triathlon. We kind of get all grim and serious, forgetting that whatever the outcome of a training session or a race, it doesn’t impact the economy. (Thanks, Coach Patrick Joson, for this little bit of wisdom.)
There’s also some inherent ridiculousness and seeming pointlessness in sport, whether it’s hitting balls back and forth (tennis), bouncing and throwing balls into a hoop (basketball), or trying to get from point A to point B as fast as possible by moving your legs (running). Don’t get me started on how dorky it really is to walk around all day in spandex — although I think my trisuit is pretty cool. :)
Don’t get me wrong: participation in sport can change lives and rescue people from the brink of death from lifestyle diseases like obesity and some types of diabetes and heart disease, but it also attracts addictive personalities. People like us can fixate on hitting target mileage or power numbers or podium spots, then lose track of why we got into the sport — because it’s fun.
Really now, unless you’re a professional and make a living out of winning, the only reward a sport can give you is a sense of fun and accomplishment. “Fun” is a relative term, if you haven’t realized by now. For some of my friends, they can’t see what’s so entertaining about putting one foot in front of the other. I love challenging myself to be the best I can be, but I need to find a way to make training enjoyable to stay motivated. I am blessed in that I take pleasure in the sensation of body movement; I hate being sedentary!
I also chase the distinct feelings different kinds of training sessions give me. Hard sessions bring a feeling of accomplishment once they are done (“I can’t believe I got through that. Awesome!”), while easy sessions give me a mental and physical break and take the pressure off. Then I am fresh and ready to give the hard sessions another crack again.
When that doesn’t work, I remember how much I enjoy races, and visualize how much fun my target race will be.
Lastly, being grateful for the opportunity and resources to engage in this sport always serves as a good wake-up call, breaking me out of the rut of “I have to” thinking and putting me into “I want to”.
Seriously, when it comes to sport don’t get into anything you don’t absolutely love. We’re grown-ups and there is a choice. Life is short and you should be spending it on what matters to you and gives your life purpose.
And I always remind myself how much I love this.