General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Idolatry? Rss Feed  
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2016-06-17 1:36 PM


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Subject: Idolatry?
I want to pose a topic and see how people feel.
There are times I struggle with my training and the events I do with becoming the "big" thing in my life. This might be only my hang-up, but I worry at times that Multisport has become an idol in my life, and I don't want that. I want to do well in my events, but I do struggle with balance in other areas of my life. I read an article awhile back in a not to be named magazine that profiled several running "heroes" due to their dedication to the sport. It followed them through a "day in the life". These folks talked about running at 4am, then working a full day, and then cross training or strength training until 9pm, and taking a half hour to spend with family before bed. The article really romanticized these people. Please know I am not judging here, I just basically want to know if at times, other people struggle with how much time they devote to their passion, or am I off my rocker?


2016-06-17 1:44 PM
in reply to: Burchib

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Subject: RE: Idolatry?
who am I to judge, or to care?
2016-06-17 2:01 PM
in reply to: Burchib

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Subject: RE: Idolatry?

I hear ya. I am fortunate in that my kids are grown and I train in such a way that my husband doesn't even really see it. I do see where you are coming from though, "is this where I should be spending my time" rather than doing something more beneficial to others. One way that I reconcile that is by being a member of TEAM RWB. In that way my training is used to connect with others and continue the mission of RWB. There are other ways to do that, coaching a Run for God group, training with the Leukemia Lymphoma Society etc. I would say that it's not so much to appease the guilt of the selfishness of training but rather to use training for something bigger than oneself. But I guess there's a fine line between the two.

2016-06-17 2:14 PM
in reply to: Burchib

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Subject: RE: Idolatry?
You have to find your own balance. It's just like anything else. If it gets to the point where it disrupts your life, and more importantly, relationships its time to take a hard look at priorities. I think the biggest mistake people make is not realizing that SOMETHING has to be leveraged when taking this much of a time commitment. If you try to keep everything exactly the same and train 10-20 hrs/week, you're not going to have a good time. For me it was simply eliminating that time after the kids went to bed when I would stay up for another couple hours. I go to bed when the kids do and wake up 2 hrs before them. I do my training early and also at lunch. When I interviewed for my job, I made sure to note that training was part of my schedule and I needed flexibility, which wasn't a problem (otherwise I would have had to consider taking the position). So training is largely invisible to the family. I make sure to mitigate long training on the weekends with time with the kids and also trade off with my wife and her workout schedule. We also plan our vacations around big races. My brother and I are doing IMFL together so we rented a place for a week and half, and we'll have the families together for a vacation, on which the first couple days are dedicated to the race with the rest to fun. It doesn't have to be a sacrifice and it doesn't have to be selfish.
2016-06-17 2:22 PM
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Subject: RE: Idolatry?
We have one son.....who is 24 and out of the home.

I asked my wife if I could have 2 seasons to be selfish......and then return to "normal". She said "yes".

Heck no it's not fair to others. No way - no how. I'm not blind to that (at all).

(Edit.....at the moment....I'm training about 9-10 hrs/wk.....which doesn't include drive times or rest. It also doesn't include the fact I go to bed almost every night at 9:00.......including weekends. IM training for 2017 race begins in the fall. I expect to train a lot more in the coming months than I am, now)

Edited by nc452010 2016-06-17 2:41 PM
2016-06-17 2:33 PM
in reply to: Burchib

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Subject: RE: Idolatry?
To actually be healthy you need to do a minimum of 3 to 4 hours of exercise a week; this is just a minimum. Most people spend 1 to 2 hours a day watching TV. I believe the latest research shows about 36-38% of Americans are obese.

So what's wrong with spending 1 to 2 hours a day staying healthy? If you enjoy the events it gives you a goal to strive for. There are a lot worse things you could spend your time doing. Of coarse you need to have priorities, for me my family and job come first.

When you stay healthy it also has positive effects on most things in your life.


2016-06-17 4:25 PM
in reply to: Burchib

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Subject: RE: Idolatry?
In 2014 I ruptured my small intestine during a 50k where I was in the front pack. I was trying to stay up front and potentially win, so I didn't take any water or aid toward the end, running the rest of the race on pure mental strength. At the end, I finished 2nd, and went home business as usual. A few days later my body let me know something was wrong, I had become so dehydrated my small intestine ruptured. I had to get emergency surgery to repair the hole.

Before that my whole life revolved around triathlon and running. My girls are now 7 and 9. Before this happened I constantly chose to train and race as opposed to spending time with them, as well as my husband. My husband has always been 100% supportive, but looking back I feel that constantly making the choice to train and race instead of spending quality time together was a jerk move. We have spent a small fortune on getting me to races, but we haven't been on a vacation since 2007. Even after all that support and money spent on my racing, I was never happy. I was always mad at myself for "failing" such as winning age group and not overall at local races, for not meeting a time goal at the bigger races. I was obsessed in an unhealthy way.

The emergency surgery was my wake-up call. I was hours from death. The hole in my intestine cause air, fluids, food, and gastric fluids to spew into my body cavity for 5 days, causing massive infection. Running almost killed me, and I would have been the mom and wife who was too busy with it to even bother being a good wife and mom. That wasn't a legacy I wanted to leave behind.

In my recovery I finally realized how much of a jerk I had been. Things changed dramatically. I slowly eased back into training, it took about 7 months to be back 100%. I found a balance between training and family time. I realized that triathlon and running was just a hobby, not a lifestyle. I reduced how many races I did in a season. I picked taking my family to the beach on the weekends instead of doing an extra race. I set up babysitters and made sure to have 2 date nights a month with my husband. Since this experience our marriage has become stronger, and my bond with my kids is stronger as well. Last year I did my first Ironman since my intestine rupture, in Louisville. I busted my to get all my training in during the day so I would be home for my kids and husband in the evening. Everyone was happy, and I PRed my Ironman by almost an hour, and my family was truly and genuinely happy, because they knew I put them first through the whole training cycle. I treated Ironman as a secondary thing, as it should be.

I'm not sure if you have kids, but if you do remember one day they will be gone and triathlon will always be there. I failed to realize this until life was nearly taken away from me. You can still be competitive on low hours, trust me. Triathlon doesn't have to be your "big thing" but it can be your main hobby. Don't let it consume you. After a few years you will be left with a rack full of medal, a shelf full of trophies, and no fun family memories, and you will wonder "was it worth it?"
2016-06-17 5:15 PM
in reply to: Burchib

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Subject: RE: Idolatry?
It's interesting that you use the word Idolatry and then focus more on time management.

First, I think nearly anything can become an idol when we use it for a spiritual purpose when it wasn't designed for that. I've learned a lot about myself and I think i've experienced personal improvement through training and racing but triathlon at the end of the day is just a race. I've seen too many people add these mythical expectations to something and then be disappointed when they are still a jerk, lonely or insecure after running an Ironman. Elevating it to the level of religion or making it a source of deep meaning will only disappoint.

Second, I'm a big believer in the concept of a life wheel. I start by putting in all the 8-10 priority areas of my life and then writing them on spokes of a wheel. Each spoke is a scale from 1-10 with 10 representing this area is getting the time and focus you think it needs. Life by no means always has to be in perfect balance or circle, however, if you have a priority area that isn't getting time because all energy is going elsewhere then you will struggle.

Don't feel guilty taking care of your self and spending time training. Don't feel guilty for not training and spending time on other priorities. My advice though is to live a life where you are present whatever you are doing. Don't spend time training wishing you were doing something else. Don't spend time with your family wishing you were elsewhere. The more focused and present you are the more success you will have with training and with family and work.
2016-06-17 9:28 PM
in reply to: cbrave


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Subject: RE: Idolatry?
I think it's all relative. I'm content just doing sprints and olympics but since I started triathlon I think my family started viewing it as a disease. In a way, I do use it as an escape from domestic life of sitting behind a desk 50-60 hours a week and doing household chores. Physical activity has always been my balance to keep from going crazy. A typical 4 hours a week was acceptable but since my first race and reaching 8 hours, the family seems to think otherwise and it doesn't help being the only active member. It seems I hear a lot of strife with people who get competitive or do athletic stuff as a side job. A friend just lost his girlfriend due to being unavailable between work and 2 hour workouts in the gym but he's also a manager, a trainer and competes. I say do what makes you happy but commitments are commitments you have to keep honest. I can't imagine only seeing my family 30 minutes a day but at the same time don't like whittling off compromises until I have nothing left to give. I like the spoke explanation above, I actually read a similar practice in a book several years back to help advance all aspects of your life simultaneously while keeping things in check.
2016-06-17 10:05 PM
in reply to: jillian_o

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Subject: RE: Idolatry?

Originally posted by jillian_o In 2014 I ruptured my small intestine during a 50k 

That is absolutely horrifying, and I'm glad to hear you recovered from that.

In regards to the OP, to each their own, ( I know that's a cop out answer on here), but if someone is really that obsessed with thing in life, and it's really so rewarding, great. For most of us, that amount of dedication would take away from our families and whatever else we have in our lives, and I think most of us would agree that it's not worth it. We had to take a general wellness class in college and the teacher talked about how healthy triathletes are, but how high their divorce rates are too. Hell I love training, but I don't get to see my parents/siblings too often, so when I go up to visit, the idea of going off by myself for a few hours while neglecting them is such a waste of time for me. As expected, Ironman really pushed the "Anything is Possible" marketing mantra into people's brains, and they can get really wrapped up in it, like I did. At one point, I think in one of the Kona broadcasts, they regarded it as the most important thing you can do in your life next to getting married and giving birth to a child. Don't get me wrong, I loved my IM experiences, but even in the most inspirational moments of training, racing, and more importantly finishing, I still never really bought into the idea that it was one of the most meaningful experiences a person can have in their life. As with anything else, I think if you focus on it so much that you never see anything else, you're missing out on a lot of beautiful things in this world.

2016-06-18 9:04 PM
in reply to: trijamie


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Subject: RE: Idolatry?
Thanks to everyone for all the thoughtful replies. Much to learn from you all!


2016-06-20 10:20 AM
in reply to: Burchib


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Subject: RE: Idolatry?
WOW! Your post really hit home for me. I have had the same topic on my mind as well. To give a little back story: 2 years ago after smoking a pack a day for nearly 20 years I quit smoking, then about 6 months ago I quit drinking after nearly 20 years as well. My training started after my wife had been on to me about getting healthy ~ 10 months ago. So in reposonse to her request I started running. In the beginning it was only 3-5 miles 3-4 times a week. It didn't take too long and I suffered an injury that forced me into pool. Long story short, I wound up training for an indoor tri at the local and won first overall - I was hooked. It's now been about 10 months since I first started running and my life now revolves around training and racing. My wife is VERY caring and supportive beyond all measure. She helps me in any way she can think of. As many you have already mentioned there is more than just training. It's the nutrition, time away from home, keeping the house up, traveling, and the immense amount of cash it takes to have any level of success. My wife and my daughter truly make this possible. However, all of that is not where the problem lies, it's my spiritual life. I have went from being in church every Sunday to maybe making it twice a month due to traveling and most races being on Sunday. I have tried to justify this by measuring the current improvements mentally and physically, thinking that I am only replacing training with time that would otherwise be spent in front of the TV, or that I would drinking and smoking. I truly love what I am doing but the Lord has been convicting me of idolatry as well. It absolutely floored to see this post. It hard for me to wrap my mind around how something so healthy can be so wrong. I don't feel like I can quit without being seen as a failure. I have advertised to my family that I am doing a 70.3 in a month and I am doing a 140.6 in 4 months (both are already paid for). I am sure that some of you will beat me up because this is not designed to be a place of religion expression but I am ok with that. I hope it helps to know that you are not alone in this one. I am feeling exactly the same.
2016-06-20 11:00 AM
in reply to: #5187465

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Subject: RE: Idolatry?
Roundegg I would say you should pay attention of you are feeling convicted.

I rarely miss church for training or racing as I can usually find Saturday races. I do miss when I travel for races though.

That being said you must listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit speaking on to YOUR life.

As for God talk, most here on BT will be respectful, even if they don't agree.
2016-06-20 11:41 AM
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Subject: RE: Idolatry?

To me, the most important question is: am I taking care of business in the other areas of my life?  My family, my friends, job and community.  You can train a lot without neglecting them; the key is getting organized and optimizing how you use your time.  For example, I almost never watch TV anymore, except once in awhile when I'm on the indoor trainer.

And my other thought is: you can still lead a spiritual life outside of church.  Where does your mind go on those long runs anyhow?

I think if you strive for balance there's no need to feel guilty.  You can give back in other ways too.  Do a race for a charity sometime



Edited by spudone 2016-06-20 11:42 AM
2016-06-20 12:31 PM
in reply to: Burchib

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Subject: RE: Idolatry?
It is a struggle and you have to find your own balance.

I am a single mom of two (8 and 6), I work full time and go to school part time. I also value social life. I absolutely love triathlon training and I want my kids to be proud of me. But it really takes a lot to manage everything. I train during lunch breaks, during my kids' swim/gymnastic lessons, and when they visit their dad. I do not want them to feel the training is taking my time with them (especially since they don't see me for 9 hours every day). Now that the summer comes, every weekend is the dilemma for me: should I finally do the long bike + long run, or should we go camping with my awesome friends. Just last week we did the camping, and I did the run later in the evening, when we came back and kids went to see their dad for an hour.
Obviously, my plan works only for the distances I'm doing (Oly, Sprint, HM). There is no way I would be able to train for HIM/IM being a single working mom. And I am just trying to make it work, so everyone is happy.

One day my kids will be much, much older, and I will do HIM/IM. Just like it was mentioned before: triathlon will not go away

2016-06-21 7:26 AM
in reply to: Burchib

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Subject: RE: Idolatry?
Like others have said, you have to find your own balance. I know some people who treat triathlons like a job. It occupies all of their spare time. They have every workout and calorie planned. When they travel, it is only for races and they take all of their own food because they don't trust restaurants. And yes, those people win races.

There are also people like me. How much I train depends on the time of year. I call beer "recovery juice". I tend to do well in shorter races (I have place second a couple times in small races) but still miss my time goals in longer ones. But I have fun and refuse to get bogged down because the fact is that I am a middle-aged woman who has no plans to quit her day job.


2016-06-21 12:45 PM
in reply to: happyscientist


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Subject: RE: Idolatry?
Roundegg and rrrunner: Awesome posts! Thanks for sharing. My original post may not have revealed it, as I am sort of new here and wasn't sure of the rules, but I used the word idolatry intentionally from the standpoint of was I really putting my training and racing ahead of the Lord? It truly is about balance, and I ask Him a lot to help me find ways to honor Him with what I do. When I feel guilty or convicted, I back off a bit and ask Him to reveal his plan for me through the Holy Spirit.

God Bless everyone on BT
2016-06-21 12:50 PM
in reply to: Burchib

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Subject: RE: Idolatry?

Originally posted by Burchib Roundegg and rrrunner: Awesome posts! Thanks for sharing. My original post may not have revealed it, as I am sort of new here and wasn't sure of the rules, but I used the word idolatry intentionally from the standpoint of was I really putting my training and racing ahead of the Lord? It truly is about balance, and I ask Him a lot to help me find ways to honor Him with what I do. When I feel guilty or convicted, I back off a bit and ask Him to reveal his plan for me through the Holy Spirit. God Bless everyone on BT

Oh.

2016-06-21 1:11 PM
in reply to: Burchib

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Subject: RE: Idolatry?
Originally posted by Burchib

Roundegg and rrrunner: Awesome posts! Thanks for sharing. My original post may not have revealed it, as I am sort of new here and wasn't sure of the rules, but I used the word idolatry intentionally from the standpoint of was I really putting my training and racing ahead of the Lord? It truly is about balance, and I ask Him a lot to help me find ways to honor Him with what I do. When I feel guilty or convicted, I back off a bit and ask Him to reveal his plan for me through the Holy Spirit.

God Bless everyone on BT


I'm not a religious person, so I can't really speak to that sort of balance. But give this a read: http://www.triathloninspires.com/mbuderstory.html Sister Madonna Buder happens to be a nun, but she is an inspiration to many.
2016-06-21 1:41 PM
in reply to: Atlantia

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Subject: RE: Idolatry?

Originally posted by Atlantia
Originally posted by Burchib Roundegg and rrrunner: Awesome posts! Thanks for sharing. My original post may not have revealed it, as I am sort of new here and wasn't sure of the rules, but I used the word idolatry intentionally from the standpoint of was I really putting my training and racing ahead of the Lord? It truly is about balance, and I ask Him a lot to help me find ways to honor Him with what I do. When I feel guilty or convicted, I back off a bit and ask Him to reveal his plan for me through the Holy Spirit. God Bless everyone on BT
I'm not a religious person, so I can't really speak to that sort of balance. But give this a read: http://www.triathloninspires.com/mbuderstory.htmlSister Madonna Buder happens to be a nun, but she is an inspiration to many.

Sister Madonna is amazing.  I've met her a few times as there is a small race a few hours from here that she has frequented.

Generally speaking, religious topics are more appropriate to discuss in "My Cup of Joe" but I think the notion of idolatry as it relates to triathlon does have a secular connotation as per many of the comments so far.  Nevertheless, I have had many discussions with my wife over idolatry within our religious beliefs and have foregone many a Sunday race as we typically attend services in the morning.  If racing is pulling you away from your believes or compromising them then that is when I would question my priorities.

As far as feeling guilty about my commitment to training, nothing could be farther from my mind.  I believe that my ability to swim/bike/run is one of my greatest blessing and I utilize that gift to greatest of my ability.  I think Pre said it perfectly.  

2016-06-21 1:50 PM
in reply to: popsracer

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Subject: RE: Idolatry?

Originally posted by popsracer

Originally posted by Atlantia
Originally posted by Burchib Roundegg and rrrunner: Awesome posts! Thanks for sharing. My original post may not have revealed it, as I am sort of new here and wasn't sure of the rules, but I used the word idolatry intentionally from the standpoint of was I really putting my training and racing ahead of the Lord? It truly is about balance, and I ask Him a lot to help me find ways to honor Him with what I do. When I feel guilty or convicted, I back off a bit and ask Him to reveal his plan for me through the Holy Spirit. God Bless everyone on BT
I'm not a religious person, so I can't really speak to that sort of balance. But give this a read: http://www.triathloninspires.com/mbuderstory.htmlSister Madonna Buder happens to be a nun, but she is an inspiration to many.

Sister Madonna is amazing.  I've met her a few times as there is a small race a few hours from here that she has frequented.

Generally speaking, religious topics are more appropriate to discuss in "My Cup of Joe" but I think the notion of idolatry as it relates to triathlon does have a secular connotation as per many of the comments so far.  Nevertheless, I have had many discussions with my wife over idolatry within our religious beliefs and have foregone many a Sunday race as we typically attend services in the morning.  If racing is pulling you away from your believes or compromising them then that is when I would question my priorities.

As far as feeling guilty about my commitment to training, nothing could be farther from my mind.  I believe that my ability to swim/bike/run is one of my greatest blessing and I utilize that gift to greatest of my ability.  I think Pre said it perfectly.  

Well said, Steve.



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