I signed up for a sprint triathlon recently! .5 miles (.8k) swimming | 13 miles (20k) biking | 3.1 miles (5k) running.
While I consider myself a fairly athletic person, my relationship with working out ebbs and flows depending on the season, and I’ve never before done anything like a triathlon (I ran a 5k two years ago but that’s about it). I’m just your average person with a gym membership who sometimes goes and sometimes doesn’t.
I don’t dislike working out. When I’m in the zone and on a roll, I actually enjoy it. Working out does wonders for my mental health and stress levels. I love how light and strong it makes my body feel. But like many people, I struggle with self-discipline. So…
Despite my self-doubts and am-I-crazy’s, I decided to give myself the ultimate physical and mental challenge of training for and competing in my first-ever sprint triathlon… and here are my 5 reasons why:
1. To reconnect with my inner athlete
I was a competitive swimmer from ages 5 through 14. I loved to swim (still do!) and was great at it too (still am!). In addition to competing with other teams within my city, I got to travel with my team to neighboring cities to compete when we made Nationals. So it was serious business, but always so much fun.
Those years made an impact on me. And though I lost touch with the pool as I moved on through life and into adulthood, being in a pool always filled me with nostalgia. And the amazing muscle memory in my arms and legs whenever I did swim always reminded me that my inner swimmer had never left me. Athleticism… it’s in me. And I sort of miss it. I want to relive the thrill of the race, a race that involves swimming.
2. To practice turning my thoughts into actions
In my About page, I say that I’m a thinker trying to be more of a doer and that’s exactly true. My tendency to over-think has impacted many aspects of my life and is actually one of the reasons I started my blog—I needed to turn my thinking about starting a blog into actually doing it (even if I didn’t know what I was doing).
On that same note, instead of thinking about how I can be more of a doer, I decided to fling myself into a doer arena, one that will require fierce commitment and training.
By training for this triathlon, I am practicing setting a goal—a tangible, straight-forward, challenging, but attainable goal—and seeing it through to the end. Seeing it through until it is done, instead of just thinking and daydreaming about it.
I hope this experience of doing—of practicing dedication and persistence—will inspire and teach me to spread this energy into other aspects of my life. Because let’s face it, only doers get things done. It’s work ethic—not just talent—that takes you places. Thinkers linger, and I’m tired of watching from the sidelines with all my mental notes. I need this certificate of completion to prove that a life of doing is possible for me. I have my mind set on plenty of things… I just need to practice the action part.
3. My strange phobia of indoor pools
I don’t remember how or when it started (and I certainly don’t know why), but I’ve always felt uneasy about swimming in indoor pools. Does ANYONE out there feel me?
Back in my swimming days we swam in outdoor pools. The bright yellow sun, the dry heat, it was all so perfect. I could see through the water. There was no dimness, no murky, chlorine-filled smell, no stuffy enclosed feeling. There was just light.
What makes me uneasy is the dark water: the lack of natural light, the inability to see clearly through the water, the shadowy dimness ahead of me as I’m swimming, and my insanely active imagination (think creatures of the deep coming out of the murkiness). It’s stuff of kids’ nightmares; it’s nonsense and silly, but it’s how I feel, and it can be crippling.
It’s worse when it’s just me in the pool. I feel “safer” when there are others around, when I feel presence with me in the water. Many times I’ve even cut my swimming short if I see that everyone in the pool has left. Maybe I had a traumatic experience in an indoor pool that I’ve suppressed? Maybe I should blame it all on my dramatic imagination?
I’ve learned to tolerate swimming in indoor pools over the years, but it continues to be an issue for me. Training for a triathlon is forcing me to face this strange fear and unlikely discomfort head-on.
4. To prove to myself that I can (because I can)
Self-doubt will be the death of me if I don’t kill it first. I don’t consider myself particularly low on confidence—I have my moments like any person—but it seems that I hoard massive amounts of self-doubt whenever I face a personal challenge. Whenever I face… myself, really. And it’s debilitating. And probably connected to my tendency to over-think things.
So I’m training for this triathlon to kill the voices of self-doubt, and to celebrate and appreciate my body, its strength, its potential, and its abilities. And the essence of Yes I can.
5. An ode to my 20s
I turned 29 recently. It’s a bittersweet number this 29. Filled with hope and excitement for a new decade on the horizon, it’s also the almost-end of a pretty intense chapter.
And so I thought, what better way to end the turbulent, exciting, eventful, thrilling, unforgettable years of my 20s than to conquer myself—mind and body—by way of a triathlon challenge? The ultimate cherry on top!
This triathlon will be a celebration of all the wonderful and life-changing years that have shaped me over this decade. The friendships I’ve made, the love that I’ve found, the hardships I’ve survived, and all that I’ve accomplished, learned, and seen and felt and explored throughout my 20s. Because triathlon training requires patience, commitment, sacrifice, pain, determination, will power, confidence, strength, endurance… I could go on… and all of these things I have tackled in my 20s, and will no doubt continue to.
But when I’m standing at the cusp of my 30th birthday, I would love to look back at my triathlon experience and be able to say: if I made it through a triathlon—and the roller-coaster decade of my 20s—I can make it through almost anything.
So have you ever competed in a triathlon? If you have, what were your reasons for signing up? And do you have any tips for me? I would love to know!
My triathlon date is June 14. Wish me luck. 🙂