This May will be 11 years since I participated in my first endurance triathlete event. Way back in May 2006, I raced Ironman Florida 70.3 in Disney. Who would have known that just a few weeks later, I would meet Karel (set up by friends) and we would start dating.
I think back to when I started training and racing in endurance triathlons and the first thing that comes to mind is how much fun I had when I started.
And now, 11 years later, I am still in love with the sport of triathlon. And the best part, I now get to share it with my cat 1 cyclist turned triathlete, boyfriend, turned fiance, turned husband alongside out team of Trimarni athletes and all of the friends that I have met along the decade plus of triathlon training and racing.
The past 11 years haven't been easy. There have been many obstacles in my way along with setbacks, busy schedules and compromises. Whereas it's easy to assume that success can keep an athlete in his/her sport, I believe it's the idea of self-development that has helped me reduce the pressure that I put on myself as I am always focused on improvement. Sure, I want to do the best that I can on race day but I am always eager for an upcoming workout to see what my body is capable of doing. I never take for granted the lessons that I can learn from making mistakes and instead of attaching my self-worth to outcomes (like qualifications, placement or times), I always focus on the process.
I wanted to write this post because I know first hand, that being an athlete is hard. Really, really hard. As an athlete, you experience failure, setbacks and obstacles all the time and you are constantly making sacrifices. This sounds like a really difficult way of living but changing your mindset about your sport, and remembering why you got started is extremely important when you find yourself at a crossroads of "should I give up on my sport or should I continue".
Over the past 11 years, I have wanted to give up many times. Yes, stop the sport of triathlon, which means so much to me. It was always during the times of setback or difficulty that I found myself questioning if I should continue. Certainly, during times of success, I never question my desire to continue dedicating my free time to this sport.
As I enter my 11th season of endurance triathlon racing, and look back on the 11 Ironman distance triathlons that I have successfully started and finished, which includes 4 Ironman World Championship events, along with the 13+ half ironman events and countless short distance triathlon events and running races, I don't overlook the countless moments when I wanted to give up during difficult moments.
When I questioned my ability and desire to continue, all I could think about was why I got started.
If you find yourself wanting to give up, ask yourself why you fell in love with your sport when you started?
It's very easy to lose the fun and joy for training when you have high goals for yourself, when you feel overwhelmed in life or you are sidelined with an injury or sickness.
Certainly, every athlete has times in his/her athletic career when giving up is the easiest option because you doubt your abilities and you can come up with a list of reasons to stop training and racing.
The next time you think to yourself that your sport is too difficult to continue, make sure you refer to your list of reasons as to why you fell in love with your sport in the first place. What made you lose the momentum to train for your sport and how can you bring it back into your life in a smart, balanced and fun way?
Think about the possibilities, the opportunities, the experiences and the unknowns that made you so excited to train and race when you started your sport.