Have you ever had one of those moments in your life that completely distracts you from your routine? Yeah, that basically sums up the past four weeks of my life. I’m not going to launch into the details because that’s not what this is about. However, as a result of all of the mania of the past month, my diet and my workout plan have gone completely off the rails. I’m definitely one of those people who finds comfort in food, and unfortunately, I find comfort in all the wrong foods. Additionally, when I eat poorly, I have a tendency to not want to exercise. My Training Peaks training plan fell apart, and as a result, I began to panic. I was still squeezing in a gym visit here and there and a long run on the weekends, but the consistency and schedule were completely trashed.
A couple of days ago, my husband took notice of my angst. He asked me what was wrong, and I explained (shrieked) to him how frustrated (horrified) I was that I had strayed so much from my plan. I had vowed to myself that once I was healed from my surgery, I would never again take for granted my ability to exercise and train. I cried over the races I have not yet run. I wept for the challenges I have not yet faced. “Why do you train so hard?” he asked me. The question was like a slap in the face. He knows why I train so hard. “I want to be the best that I can be,” I said with an obvious sour tone, irritated that he would ask when he already knew how important training and racing are to me. “You haven’t raced since 2012. You’re stressing yourself out about your training just like you did before. Why can’t this year just be about having fun?” And that’s when I finally sobered up. He was right.
I didn’t get into the sports of triathlon and road racing to win. I did it to try something new; to challenge myself; to have fun. In 2012, I was kicking ass in all of my races, but when I look back, I wasn’t truly enjoying it. In fact, I was miserable. My life was all about training and dieting, and the last tri I completed before I got injured, well, I hated it. I knew I was performing poorly, and I was angry with myself because I truly believed I had not worked hard enough. That’s not what racing and triathlon is about, at least not for me.
I have decided to take my husband’s advice: I’m going to get back to my triathlon roots. That’s not to say that I’m not going to train hard and race hard, but I am going to be more conscious of how I feel as I’m doing both. If I’m not enjoying it then what’s the point? Starting right now, I will no longer track my training for this season. I think part of the problem was making sure I was filling in those numbers and charts with the times I needed. In fact, it became a competition to achieve – and try to surpass – the planned completion time and distances of each of the workouts. To see a workout not completely shaded in on the calendar would literally make my heart pound and my mind race. I would beat myself up; I would call myself a failure. Where is the fun in that?
Now I know this is not what a professional triathlete would do, but I’m not a professional. “Age grouper” or “Amateur” are the categories I typically fall under in triathlon, but this season I’m creating a new category: “recreational triathlete.” It’s time to bring back the fun!