The voice in my head, the ego/inner critic/fear stuff, was going crazy about two weeks ago.
Why bother doing this? It’s not like you’re working for world peace. No one gives a shit whether or not you complete a triathlon. It’s going to be a lot of work. It’s going to take a lot of time. You’ll have to negotiate more child care. You’re going to feel busier and more pinched for time. Why do this?
My interest in triathlon started after I was waylaid by a stress fracture in 2012. The fracture happened because I ramped up training for a 1/2 marathon, way too quickly. Stuck on the couch and jonesing for some cardio release, I ordered You Are An Ironman by Jacques Steinberg and was immediately hooked. I started going to my gym’s pool for aqua jogging shortly thereafter, at which point I realized that I couldn’t swim a single pool lap without my heart rate going through the roof. I didn’t know how to swim. Next came a few swim lessons.
Then I got this big idea in my head that I wanted to do a half-Ironman. Then came infertility, and sadness, and then came re-committing to triathlon training, then came baby, then came total overwhelm.
So when that voice piped up asking me, “Why do this? Why bother?” I searched myself for a good answer.
What I came up with, was this: I just want this to be the summer that I trained for my first triathlon.
For nearly the past two years of my life, my mind has been focused on pregnancy and baby-baby-baby. I don’t regret that, and I wouldn’t have chosen differently, but I also see how within the past few months, I had arrived at a little tipping point where something had to shift. Life could not be waking up, childcare, work, childcare, cramming time with friends or husband into the nooks and crannies, go to bed and get up the next day and do it again, all while I was feeling like I had less energy.
Whenever I thought of training again, I’d just feel tired and overwhelmed. It didn’t feel like the right time.
Then, about six weeks ago, I started really realigning my priorities with my vision. I decided that the “Big Stuff” needed to come first–point blank, no excuses, no negotiations. I asked myself what went on my “Big Stuff” list, and it was family, writing, unstructured time, and triathlon. Of all the things I wanted to put on that list, triathlon training was there.
I realized that I had to stop waiting for it to be the “right time.” I had to stop waiting for when life would “feel normal again” after having a baby.
If a triathlon was something I wanted to do, had longed to do for the past three years, then it was time to just train for it.
So why do this? Why bother?
I’m doing it because I want to be fit and healthy, and running alone has clearly run my body into the ground a few times, so the cross training helps to keep me active.
I’m doing it because already, even only a few weeks in, I feel like a happier, saner person just from the catharsis of all of that exercise.
I’m doing it because it reconnects me with something that I felt pre-baby…like my life could be my own, and that could be okay.
I’m doing it because I want something in my life that isn’t career or family, something just for me.
And mostly, I’m doing it because for several years now, I’ve wanted to, and I’m tired of longing for something and being fascinated by people who do the something, and watching documentaries and reading books about the something. I want to do the things I long for.
Really, you gotta figure that there’s something to this for anyone who trains. It’s not like sitting on a bike saddle for a long time is exactly comfortable. Swimming is a pain in the ass. Running is the thing I like best, of course, but even I get annoyed with little aches and pains, and don’t want to make time for the foam roller.
Point blank: I believe that if we want to do something, we owe it to ourselves to give it a try when it’s something that keeps coming back and coming back.
I don’t have a lot of time. I feel guilty when I’m at spin class and don’t see my daughter before bed. I make trade-offs around housework. There’s always another plate spinning in the air.
And yet, I’m happier and less overwhelmed and far better able to deal with any kind of stress, because I’m doing something I’m excited about doing. That’s worth it.