Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Lonely Life of a Triathlete

Now that it is 2015 I am embarking on my fifth year of triathlon. I train a lot. Recently on a training run a stark realization occurred to me. It was a cold day, the wind chill was 14 degree. I was dressed appropriately. I paused briefly and stopped my Garmin, I had to put my buff over the sides of my face as the wind was picking up and I was getting that now familiar feeling of the cold just chomping at my face. I looked around, saw the tall grass swaying in the wind, the leaves on the trees still trying desperately to cling to the branches. I could hear the gentle sound of the winds blowing. Not another soul in sight, only me.

Cold day in the Midwest
Its lonely out here. As it has always been.

For the past five years, the majority of my training has been solo. Over the years I have been fortunate to have training partners for brief periods of time in running and swimming. The periods of time I have had training partners are memories I cherish. In addition to that, my husband and my best friend have taken turns riding alongside me on bicycles on long runs (anything over 12 miles) for support. I have always thanked them tremendously, but I don't think they realize just how grateful I have been for this.

It gets lonely. Miles and miles on the road, lap after lap in the pool. I don't particularity enjoy the alone time, its just the way it is, and the way its always been. Driven by my goals, I get out there day after day, alone.

Bike rides are probably the worst. Long course triathlon requires hours and hours on the road, and listening to music on the road is too dangerous. Quiet loneliness.

Time to roll
So why I am writing this? My writing is usually positive and upbeat. Its the start of the new year, shouldn't I be writing something encouraging? I'm going somewhere with this.

In the end, it will all be worth it
This is my fifth year of triathlon, and I will be racing my 7th half ironman and 3rd ironman. With the turn of the new year I have noticed an influx in folks registering for ironmans and half ironmans. I love this, the feeling of finishing either distance is an amazing feeling, and I have never quite been able to find the words to describe what it is like to finish an ironman.

It will be lonely, there will be solo long runs, bike rides, and swims. There will be days where the hours of loneliness will make you not even want to bother with it. There will be days where the hours of lonely training will drive you mad. There will be days when you will be training alone and question why you are doing this. In training for long course triathlon, you will discover you are much stronger than you thought you were. Overcoming the loneliness is one of the aspects of mental fitness in triathlon. You can do this.

It won't be easy, but I promise you, it will be worth it

The moment I have no words for

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