It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything, and really I have no good excuse. I suppose the lack of races has taken away that building momentum I’m always bugging my novel-writing clients about. I’ve been in more of a holding pattern during the pandemic, but it has been an interesting and instructive time:
- I’ve learned how to run without injuring myself
- I’ve realized that, for me, triathlon is at least as much about lifestyle as it is about racing
- I’ve discovered that swimming is not my favourite thing, but it is a good thing and I need to do more of it
- I’ve had a few close encounters with wildlife
- I’ve explored new routes and knocked some epic rides off my bucket list.
I could say a lot about each one of these things, but I’d like to talk about lifestyle, especially since racing doesn’t seem to be coming back anytime soon.
One thing about races is that they provide ready-made goals and motivation. They give you a deadline. They impose structure. Take that away, and you’re bound to start asking some tough questions about what you’re doing and why. Do you really like this sport? Would you do it for its own sake and not because there are spectators and results and age-group rankings? (Of course, who are we fooling? There’s still Strava.)
It can be hard to impose this motivation on yourself, though I think it can be done. How you do it probably depends a lot on your personality. If you’re socially motivated, setting a run date with someone in your bubble might be the way to keep you moving. If you’re goal-oriented, deciding what you want and planning your way to get it will also work. And if it turns out you don’t care about triathlon as much as you thought, maybe it’s time to explore other options.
I spend a significant part of my day sitting at a desk, so riding and running (and swimming, okay, yes) provide an essential means of escape. They clear my head and give me a restart button after half my day is over and I can’t sit or think or write anymore. They’re also an essential mood-lifter. Endorphins are my drug of choice, and I confess a full dependence on them.
So, I’ve discovered that this triathlon lifestyle suits me very well. As someone funnier than I am once said: why be good at one sport when you can be average at three? But I like the variety. I love running, but I know I can’t do it every day without hurting myself, so I need other options. I like the way biking takes me places I wouldn’t otherwise go and makes me a better runner, and swimming… what does swimming do again? Kidding. Swimming is essential for keeping my back healthy and my body aligned. This lifestyle works for me, and I’ll keep doing it regardless of what happens to racing.
Which brings me to racing.
I’m doing fine without it. Setting goals seems to work: choosing things to achieve that are important to me—not for any particular reason, but just because striving is a way to improve, and measuring that striving is a way to confirm that you are improving. My running partner and I have set some fall goals, and we’re going to sit down sometime soon with a calendar and my right-now-favourite running book and figure out how to reach them. My speedy daughter has agreed to pace us, which will make a huge difference. It’s amazing how much faster you can run when you’re trying to keep up with someone.
Ironman Canada was supposed to be on Sunday. Of course I wish we were all in Penticton doing the race. But I have hope that racing will come back, and even if it doesn’t happen in the near future, I’ll keep setting goals and working hard to achieve them.
Next up: the bears on Cypress, and that seal.