As an athlete who has been around a while and a Level 2 coach, I often think that from the outside, it may look as though triathlon defines me. However, when you get to know me, you will know I love a laugh and a giggle, I love training with friends and I love a good Instagram training moment. I.e. I definitely don’t take triathlon (or life for that matter) too seriously!
So… can you enjoy yourself AND achieve performance goals? In my opinion, absolutely. When someone starts talking to me regarding their goals and dreams in the triathlon world, I always quote one of my favourite triathletes, Chrissie Wellington. She spoke at an event marking the launch of her book, and her words have lasted with me for an extremely long time.
“The moment I felt like triathlon defined me, I knew it was time to stop”.
I love triathlon. I really do love it, I’ve been doing it for over 10 years. It does not define me. However, I still train 10 hours a week, race competitively and sometimes reach the age group podium. Why is that? Because I love my training, I love training with like-minded people, and it is a genuine escape from the day job and a very effective stress reliever.
If you become so focused on the end product, the end result, the end goal – you fall out of love with the process. And then if you don’t love the process, how do you become emotionally invested in it and give it your all? If your body shows up but your mind doesn’t, then are you truly getting the best out of yourself?
Yes, there are those dark cold mornings when the last thing you want to do is get up and go for a run. In fact, I had one of those this morning. But my friend sent me a text from outside my apartment, I pulled myself out of bed, and within five minutes of running in the pouring rain next to her I was giggling, laughing and running at a pace I definitely don’t run solo. But most of all I was enjoying myself. And guess what – I smashed the session plan goals. I.e, I was achieving performance gains.
The problem is, if you don’t love it, session after session after session seems like a chore. If this happens then cut yourself some slack. Continuing to drag yourself through sessions week after week if your body is telling you to have a break is counter-productive, and isn’t healthy, mentally or physically. Take some time out and find the love again.
So yes… in my opinion, you can win races and have fun getting there. Don’t be so serious about it that you lose sight of that.