Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Completer, Not a Competer

I know, I know...it's been waaaay too long. Yes, life has gotten in the way. Work has been crazy, we moved, there's been lots of travel. But those are all just excuses. The real reason I haven't been here is because I've been struggling with my place in the world of triathlon. Heavy stuff, huh? It may sound silly, but triathlon is a sport that requires a significant amount of time and dedication, so if you're going to do triathlons you need to know your reasons. And somewhere along this triathlon journey, I lost mine.

As most of you know, I spent the last year working with a coach. I decided to get a coach last August because, well, most of my tri friends had a coach. And I also thought it would take a lot of the "thinking" out of the training. And for a while, I loved it. My workouts were clicking, I was enjoying training and I was seeing great progress with my biking and running (swimming, well that's another story). But then all of a sudden, right as the season was beginning (great timing!), I didn't want to do it anymore. Any of it. I would go out on runs and quit right in the middle. I would start a bike ride and try to think of reasons to quit. I hated it. And I cried before (sometimes during) and after just about every training session. The worst part was that I had no idea what was going on! All of my tri friends were in the peak of their seasons, having a blast with training and racing, and I just had no heart for the sport. Although I felt like dropping out of all my races, I talked myself into doing a couple of sprints and an Olympic and had a pretty good experience with average race results. But I DNS'd (Did Not Start) my "A" race of the year. That's when I knew I had to figure things out. I was actually scared. Something that had become so integral to my life was suddenly seeming so foreign to me. I was lost.

The first thing I did was talk to my coach about "taking a break." The rigid structure of coached workouts was making my A-Type personality see each workout as a "performance" and not as training. Mentally, it was just too much. Races were not fun because I didn't want to disappoint my coach (my expectation, not his). So I parted ways with my coach and spent much of August doing, well, NOTHING.

Then earlier this month, as I was talking to Jonathan (who has been the ultimate supportive husband, as always, even though I've probably driven him to drink as I worked through this the last couple of months) about my plans for triathlon moving forward, something he said just clicked. As we talked about my lack of confidence in more challenging races/events, he said, "you can finish any race you sign up for...you're a COMPLETER not a COMPETER." At first, I was a tad offended. Was he saying that I was a loser BOP triathlete that wouldn't ever be able to contend? But after some thought I knew that he was right. He was exactly right. I am not a naturally gifted athlete. I will never be vying for a Kona spot and will never be running the Boston Marathon. But what does motivate me is taking on new challenges. Things that people would never have thought I would (or could!) do. I like to push myself to the limit. I like to go long or really hard, I don't necessarily like to go fast. This put everything into perspective. I wasn't motivated by my coach (although he is one of the best) because he's very numbers and performance driven and I am not. I was not motivated by my races because they were all Olympic distance races, most of which I had already completed. There was not a significant challenge on the calendar that I was working toward. It suddenly all made so much sense.

So where do I go from here? I've decided to self coach at least for the time being. My next big challenge will be the Phoenix Marathon in January, where I do actually have a time goal but am much more motivated by the event itself. Next tri season I will be taking on some new and challenging races that involve lots of hills. And then the ultimate challenge for any completer is solidly on my radar for 2010...Ironman Wisconsin (more to come on this decision later!!). So I'm back and looking forward to sharing more from the triathlife of a "completer" in the coming weeks. My newfound place in this sport should make this blog even more interesting, given that the other blog author is much more of a competer than a completer. But I think there's a place for both of us in this triathlon world. :)

- Her

1 comment:

Laura said...

Love it. And fun to see IMWI 2010 out there for you... maybe I'll be up for it by that time as well.. :)