Thursday, January 29, 2015

The triathlete's support network

Some of my HPS teammates

One thing that I have learned through my journey to happiness and through my journey as a triathlete, is that having a support network is crucial to my success.  I am so incredibly lucky to have friends, family, and teammates that support my goals, challenge me, encourage me, and pick me up when I am down. 

Training for an individual sport like triathlon can be really tough.  It is always up to you and you alone to put the training in, whether that means staring at the black line at the bottom of the pool, logging hours on the bike trainer, or waking up to fit your long run in before work or family time on the weekends.  It can be tough to do it alone or to have family or friends that don't understand why you can't just skip that workout.  It can be tough to constantly turn down invitations for drinks with friends or outings to do other activities on your rest day.  It can be tough to say no to family and friends for any reason that has to do with, "I have to train."  Sometimes you may hear, "So when is your next race?" and see looks of confusion when you tell them that it is months and months away.  It can be easy to justify skipping your workouts sometimes too, to avoid that guilty feeling of turning friends and family down yet again.  (A coach can be another crucial part of your support network in those cases.  Having someone to be accountable to can be really helpful in keeping you on track for your goals, and also can help you work through some of the tougher aspects of training.) 

Triathletes are all extremely busy with working, training 8-20 hours a week, cooking to fuel our bodies, washing our endless loads of dirty workout clothes, and trying to have some sort of social life.  This is where it is important to find balance in our lives and to make sure that we aren't sacrificing our relationships with our friends and family for the sake of our goals.  But it is also where it is important to have your friends and family onboard with your goals. If you're lucky, they will be supportive and understanding. 

Dad, Mom and Grandma hanging out with me at the airport after Chicago last summer. Best support crew ever!!

I definitely recommend making some friends with other triathletes.  This helps with the loneliness of the individual aspect of the sport.  Training with other people is more fun and will likely make you a better athlete.  You can suffer together and support each other along the way.   Becoming friends means that you might have a group to socialize with that understands your need to go to bed early so you can wake up for that 6 am swim practice.  BUT having friends outside the sport is also important.  Those friends and family members can give you perspective and can help you stay balanced.

So, I'm extremely thankful for my friends, family and teammates.  They have supported me through my ups and downs of learning to be a happier, healthier person.  They have cheered for me at my races and encouraged me through my tough training.  They have pushed me at practice and challenged me to be a better athlete, and human being.

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