Twelve hours a week of training. That’s how much I’ve been averaging this semester in preparation for a half-Ironman race coming up. It’s getting really tricky to juggle everything around, and I’m starting to ask myself why I am putting so much time into this. I mean, after all, I was getting by just fine on only a few hours a week without a goal in sight my freshman year. What caused this huge change? And why triathlons? I feel that out of all types of exercise, triathloning requires far more time and discipline to even complete adequately, much less excel at. So why do it?I’m not going to stop any time soon; the mandatory off-season over Christmas break was really hard to stick to. In an effort to explain my motivation, I’ve come up with the following reasons. I’m writing this as a college student, but these reasons probably apply to everyone who sacrifices their time for our sport.
People vastly underestimate the power of peer pressure. And if you’re competitive (like most triathletes), then working out with other people is even more motivating because the group inevitably starts comparing race times and the amount of hours they’ve already put into training this week. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been struggling through a run when lo-and-behold I pass another runner from the triathlon club and motivation returns with their smile and encouraging words. And finally, being around people who love being fit almost more than I do is a constant source of assurance that I’m not crazy for giving up all of my free time to swim laps.
If this were a self-help book, I would probably point out that it’s wrong to care about others’ expectations and how you can’t fail others, you can only fail yourself, etc, etc. But it’s not, and for the sake of honesty, I’m mentioning it here because it’s a real reason that I keep doing what I do. Being a triathlete is such a part of who I am now that it would be weird to tell everyone that I suddenly got tired and quit. Plenty of conversations have been started with the phrase, “did you run today?” And some of my friends who, shall we say are less concerned about exercise, have told me at some point in time that I motivated them to go to the gym that day. And if I can help someone make a positive change in their life, then that’s reason enough right there to keep on triathloning.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” you say, “you had to put this one in there.” And you’re right to criticize me for being very cliche. But look. I’m not perfect--I am in college and live a college lifestyle, so things like my sleep patterns or my caffeine/alcohol consumption are not what you would call good for me. So it’s a great comfort to know that I am somewhat offsetting these habits with a healthy diet and exercise. Training is also fantastic for relieving stress, which is one of the most common problems college students deal with. So there. I said it. Triathloning is healthy, and that’s a reason that I keep doing it.
Yes, I’m that guy. I admit I can get really obnoxious when it comes to competition. I’m the guy that walks 100 feet in front of everyone else in the scavenger hunt and the guy that orders that hottest flavor of wings on the menu just to prove I can handle the most heat. So it’s really nice to have something to do every day that both satiates my hunger for competition and tires me enough that I no longer have to be the best all the time. And since I’m mostly competing with myself, I never encounter a sore loser and technically, I never lose either. It’s a win-win.
In terms of enjoyment, few things rival jumping into a pool or strapping on some running shoes in preparation for an hour or two of cardio. It’s one of the few times that I can forget trying to keep 10 balls in the air and just get in the zone. I’ve never really had an issue with motivation (this article is basically about why that’s the case), so you’ll never hear me say something like, “And ugh! I still have to go run.” It’s more like, “Ugh! I didn’t get to go run.” Triathloning is honestly just pure fun, and out of all the reasons, this one is probably the biggest reason I keep coming back. Basically, you can sum all of this up by saying that triathloning is good for me and I love doing it. Those are my reasons for my inability to give up training. What are some of your reasons?