Thoughts From A Triathlete Written by guest blogger Joe Stephens, Attorney and 10-Time Ironman.
Triathletes are always fighting imbalance, and it comes in many forms:
- Life: How much time are you devoting to workouts, how much time do you make for your friends or family?
- Athletic: How much time are you dedicating to each individual sport? To recovery? To cross-training or doing things to actively ward off injury?
- Financial: How much money do you allot for race entry and the other expenses (travel, hotels, etc.) that go with it? How much do you budget for non-triathlon pleasures?
These are a small sample, but these are daily challenges. I am often amused when I hear completely impractical advice on how to effectively train (most of us can’t ride 100 miles on a Tuesday and then sleep the rest of the day, for example), I am even more befuddled by people who genuinely brag about the extreme imbalance that exists and the consequences it has (a personal best that qualifies you for Ironman Hawaii is quite a feat, but not if it costs you a relationship), and I genuinely laugh at people who refuse to have a cold beer on a hot Texas evening because they’re training for a race that isn’t for another eight months. Unless this is a profession—seriously, unless your livelihood depends on your athletic performance—your physical exploits should be enjoyable and rewarding. To make it so, there is one word that should be pegged to your wall of inspiration: BALANCE.
I’d consider myself a focused athlete, and when I run the Boston Marathon next April, there will be plenty of 5am runs and early Friday bedtimes in my training. But it will not have me eating a nutritionally balanced meal on Thanksgiving. The thing is, anything you do outside of normal routine will threaten to tip the scales of your life, but a well-rounded and correctly structured “training plan” (or whatever you’d like to call it) should allow room for other endeavors.
My challenge to you, then, is to find something else you wouldn’t normally think to do, and do it. After years of endurance triathlon training, I added Pilates to my routine—making time for it sometimes three times a week—and I am stronger, faster, and am still yet to be injured. I am now trying to add regular massage as well. Also, I’ve decided to make as many of my race decisions with my girlfriend as possible. If she’s coming to cheer and is giving me an early Saturday evening and an even earlier Sunday morning, I want her to be in a place she wants, not somewhere she’s dreading to go. Given the over-abundance of races, these discussions should never create much tension (debating on whether to go to Napa or Sonoma is quite a non-problem to have).
I say all this because imbalance is devastating. You burn out, you lose interest in things you love, and passions become routine. I’ve been there, and I train with people who have as well. All you can do to prevent this, then, is let triathlon be a complement to your life, and you do that by letting other things be a complement to triathlon. I mentioned Pilates earlier, and it is a fantastic addition for a few reasons: it is not time-consuming, it assists in both preparation and recovery, and you benefit your body in ways that perfectly complement the three sports you’re pushing yourself through. Try it. Or try something else. Whatever you do, strive for balance—it’s much more enjoyable that way.
More thoughts from Joe here.