Sunday, June 17, 2012

Triathlon Inspiration: what got me started

My inspiration into the sport of triathlon came from my running coach.  After years of using various on-line marathon training programs, I decided to hire a coach to help me get to the next level – to help me over the hurdle of the plateau I had reached.  Coach is a runner and triathlete himself, knowledgeable and a strong athlete in all three disciplines.  I have always done plenty of spin bike as cross-training.  I swam as a kid, and picked it back up as an adult for cross-training , because I knew it would make me a better runner.  Once you learn proper technique (this requires time and patience), swimming is surprisingly fun and great for runners.  As summer approached, my coach suggested a sprint tri, to mix up my training and keep me mentally fresh for fall marathon training. I was game.  But a couple of falls and difficult training bike workouts later, I completely changed my mind.  Triathlon was not for me.  I wasn’t interested in becoming a cyclist.  I was a runner, and swimming was for cross-training purposes only.  I told my coach, who was understanding.  But it didn’t feel right.  It felt strange to type an email to my coach, admitting the bike had gotten the best of me in such a short time and I didn’t want to even try.  That isn’t me.  I believe its important in life to try new things…travel…meet new people…try things that scare you…experience life to the fullest.  Was I really going to let a couple of falls in the driveway when getting used to new pedals and a couple of frustrating rides getting used to shifting gears stop me from trying something new?  Thousands and thousands of people train for and enjoy the sport of triathlon.  They must be onto something.  Why shouldn’t I see what all the fun was about?  I decided that the bike was not going to get the best of me.  The bike wasn’t going to keep me from pursuing something new that seemed like so much fun for so many people. Not to mention that Coach had been right about a lot of things (the effectiveness of heart rate training, Newtons/natural running form, nutrition).  I trusted Coach completely and there a part of me that didn’t want to let him down.   I signed up for the sprint tri.  I was determined to learn how to cycle…how to clip in and out, how to change gears, how to climb hills.  Over time my confidence grew.  I was excited about the sprint tri, but not as nervous as before a marathon.  I knew the tri would be an adventure.  I ended up 3rd in my age group.  It was thrilling hear my name called. I couldn’t wait to tell coach!  That summer I wouldn’t say I loved the bike, but I was getting better and that was enough.  A few months later I did an Olympic distance and won my age group.  It was meaningful to me because I worked so hard to overcome my issues on the bike.  Not to mention the sheer fun of it all!  Seeing competitors at various points along the course, encouraging and getting encouragement from others, crossing the finish line knowing you conquered something that scared you.  I was hooked on that feeling. 

Being part of a team and talking with other athletes kept me motivated all winter.  I worked on my bike throughout the off-season.  There were long days on the trainer and cold days when the roads were dry.  But come springtime, I felt stronger.  Its motivating to see yourself change.  Now that tri season is in full swing, swimming, running, and cycling with others, listening to race reports and talking about training has kept me inspired.  I am glad I tried something new.  I  glad I didn’t give up.  I’m glad I got right back on that bike and kept trying.  I will always be a marathoner at heart, but I know I will stay on the triathlon road.  Its so much fun, a challenge, and there are too many adventures to be had to even consider stopping.

Be Healthy.  Train Smart.  Have Fun. 

No comments: