It’s only July and for the earliest time in my 8 year career with this sport my triathlon season is over! Though this may seem like an emotional decision brought on by the ramifications of my recent Full at Lake Placid it is something I have been considering for months. I have really enjoyed this season and have put out some of my best performances but noticing both mental and physical diminished returns I figure it’s in my best interest to take a clean break to rejuvenate and hopefully reestablish my love for triathlon rather than press on and start to resent something that is intended to be a fun hobby rather than a job.
All driven individuals will admit a level of love-hate with their passions, it’s an unavoidable byproduct of pouring yourself into something. You welcome a sense of identity but grow to depend on it. I have always considered myself an athlete, even when I struggled, from high school snowboarder and soccer player to college runner and post collegiate triathlete. With years the things that have always made sense have started to blur as I’ve found increasingly more individuals questioning my dedication to sport as opposed to exploring other avenues of life such as career, family, etc.
“Could you imagine if you put as much energy into your job as you do triathlon?!”
“I could never do what you do and still support my family”
I acknowledge that fitness and a fulfilling life should not be mutually exclusive, but the sport of triathlon, specifically Ironman, really puts that to the test with 20+ hour workout weeks and full weekends spent swim, bike, running. I do not intend to give up these disciplines, but I do aim to scale back the endurance activities and grow the strength and flexibility pieces in a reasonable fashion to allow for more exploration and availability to family, friends and career. I will be tuning down the running significantly since after decades of fast paces and long miles my body is starting to fight back with nagging pains and the risk of injuries (calves especially).
Most of all I look forward to ‘getting after it’ more, turning off my Garmin and focusing on going head to head against others in my workouts. The vast majority of Ironman training is moderate solo effort. I miss 60 minute redline sessions, the type of workout where my coach would try to get me to slow down rather than risk blowing up. I miss blowing up! I’d like to join in on some tough rides, maybe on a road bike. Finally, I look forward to the opportunity of investing way more time in the gym, perhaps gaining 15lbs before shedding it again in the summer, we’ll see. July through December, then we’ll reevaluate.
Sounds like fun to me doesn’t it??
Like I mentioned I consider this year’s short season to be a success. I got on the podium often, PR’d in the Olympic distance (breaking an hour finally in the 40k, twice!), and scored higher than in all my previous years, even under coaching. I enjoyed my races, especially the shorter ones, racing against friends locally. I learned an important lesson about Ironman, which is not only do I under-perform at the distance, I really don’t enjoy it either. It takes so much time and energy, costs way too much and just doesn’t feel right to me. This became particularly obvious last weekend watching men and women 20 years older walking home with gear bags at Placid when I was still out on my final run lap, getting passed by dozens of athletes that day compared to none in my previous 70.3 and Olympic races.
Olympic – 1:18/100y, 290 watts, 6:07/mile
HIM – 1:20/100y, 263 watts, 6:17/mile
Ironman – 1:23/100y, 185 watts, 10:00/mile
The math doesn’t seem to add up does it?!
And what would my report be without some supporting graphs, illustrating my Ironman struggle yet continued progress in the other distances –
FOMO may hit an all-time high this fall but I know this is the right move. Most sports are participated in a few months out of the year, not 10 months at a time, 8 years in a row. That’s too much for me! I really feel like I will come out of this healthier on the other side and look forward to crushing it again in 2019!