After 19 yrs and 135 triathlons I have decided to move on. In fact it has been a gradual unwinding process. The sport gave me so much and taught me a lot about human potential and how hard work and dedication can pay huge dividends. I developed interesting and diverse life-long friendships as well as travel to many cool destinations. But, more significantly, while I was getting faster, stronger and more competitive, I was slowly shifting my life balance. It was this realization that was the impetus for change and my eventual decision to move on.
As I look back on my triathlon years I have many interesting memories, thoughts and feelings. I met some amazing athletes, from elite and professional triathletes to individuals that sought out the sport to test their ability and to overcome self-doubt to working with combat injured marines who overcame physical disabilities to PTSD. I realize that multisport racing, was and is, a huge commitment and not for everyone. I transformed my body going from 185 to 150 lbs so I could train and race competitively. This was an arduous process that challenged me on many levels – but was a necessary evil in order to compete at a high level. Sacrifices were many, including a healthy, long-term relationship because I was so all consumed with the triathlon lifestyle. Most of the travel I did was centered around training or racing. Looking back, I know that I wasn’t really available to be in a healthy and balanced relationship. At the time, triathlon was my priority. It was like a drug, and unless you didn’t partake like I did, I was quick to disengage.
Today, I have a healthy and balanced relationship with my wife, take more time to travel, ( I still seek out where the nearest pool or open water and great running trails are located) pick up new hobbies or revisit old ones. I can share my experiences with others and help them avoid or learn from my mistakes. While I do miss the endorphin high I’d get from a hard -earned podium spot or reaching new levels of fitness, I was conflicted with the seemingly never ending pursuit of excellence. Was the sport putting these demands on me or were they self-inflicted? Was I ever truly satisfied with my accomplishments and how much did they really define me?
Today, I’m not so connected to my watch and the need to measure my performance and output. I see many of my friends who still race and it seems some are built for the sport and its demands, while others struggle to stay healthy and cannot divorce themselves from racing. Their bodies, whether its nagging injuries, insomnia, hormonal imbalances, mood swings, food cravings, immune system issues, are screaming for attention. I refer to these athletes as “sick-fit.” While they exhibit the ability to race and push their bodies, their underlying systems are failing them. They have taught themselves to ignore symptoms of fatigue and over-training. I tell my clients and friends once something no longer brings you joy and feels like you are pushing a boulder up a hill, you need to ask yourself if it is time to re-evaluate your life and your commitment to your sport. Are you in control or is the sport in control of you?
If you are new to the sport or new to endurance sports, join a triathlon club or seek out a well-known coach so you get off on the right foot and hold you accountable. There’s much to learn and much to gain. If you have any questions or need some advice you can reach out to me. As long as you stay in balance and listen to your body, you can have a very rewarding experience and reach goals you may never thought possible.