Home > Tri Posts > At A Crossroads (or May 2015 Month in Review)

At A Crossroads (or May 2015 Month in Review)

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As I write this, I’m 20 days away from my first race of the season – the Olympic Distance at the Toronto Triathlon Festival.  And I’m feeling really torn (and a fair bit tired) – like I’m at a crossroads of sorts.  Like at some point soon I need to decide what I want out of triathlon, or perhaps more accurately, what I want to put into triathlon (and what I’m willing to accept out of it, consequently).

15MayWeekly

Let’s look back at the month of May.  My training in May was a tail of two triathletes.  The first week (and a half) and the last week were really strong, focused training weeks.  I had a decent balance and volume of training in all 3 sports.  I had some high intensity days and some recovery days.  Everything felt like it clicked.  The middle two weeks were the opposite – I dragged myself out for a little bit of running, but that was it.  I was lazy, disinterested, and found all kinds of excuses not to get in the pool or touch the bike.  I got tired, and a little burnt out.  I backed off.  I spent my time on other hobbies instead.

Last week was a great week.  This morning I feel exhausted.  I missed my swim this morning and rationalized my way out of biking this evening.  I’m backing off again.  I don’t know if that’s good or bad.

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Looking back over the past year I think helps paint the picture.  Disregarding the ‘sports’ minutes (baseball/volleyball/curling, etc, which I stopped tracking around the new year), May of 2014 was a (relatively) giant month for me for training, if not a little bit imbalanced.  As we got into the summer – into the core of race season (and also the core of patio season) – my training really tapered off.  It became real easy to hear the excuses not to train: how much time it took, how tired I felt, how many other fun things there were to do over the summer.  In fact, you have to go back to May of last year to find the last time I did as much training as I did in May of this year, and that’s even with those two lazy weeks.

Which brings me back to my original crossroads question: what do I want out of triathlon?  On one hand, I’m really damn proud of the work I put in this past month.  It’s the most I’ve ran or swam in over a year.  And not only have the volumes gone up, but having joined a swimming group and a cycling group, the intensity has gone up too.  I feel stronger than I have in a LONG time.

On the other hand, I feel more tired than I have in a long time.  And I feel a little bit more disinterested than I have in a long time (which I think correlates inversely with the approach of patio season, and the plethora of other fun summer things I could be doing with my training time).  To keep up this training means making choices – and at some point I have to decide where this falls on my personal priority list.  Right now, I feel like my mind changes back and forth each week.

I read a great blog post a few weeks back called It’s All About That Bass: How The Triathlon Industry Gets It Wrong (go read it now, I’ll wait…).  It’s a fantastic article that discusses a lot of points on motivation in the triathlon age-group industry and how it could be better approached by marketing.  A fantastic read, which I really enjoyed, and hardly relates to what I’m discussing here today other than it makes one really key distinction:

The sport is growing from an increasing number of new athletes who are more average, heavier, less athletic but still inspired to participate– if not necessarily compete.

This has really stuck with me since reading this piece:  Am I in this sport to participate, or to compete?  What do I want to get out of triathlon?  What do I want to put into it?

History tells me I can back off my training – I can enjoy all the patios and beaches and summer fun that I’d like, do the occasional Weekend Warrior training, and still participate in triathlon races.  That’s what I did last year, and truthfully every summer in the past.  I can be that average, heavier, less athletic but still inspired to participate athlete.  I can finish, grab my finisher’s medal, sweaty selfie, and post race pint, and be on my way.  I can do that without feeling so tired, so burnt out, all summer long.  I can choose that balance.  And that’s not a bad thing – even doing that much would make me a much healthier and fitter self than I was before I got into the sport, and would still let me enjoy the fun of race day.

But what if I want to compete?  What if I want to push myself?  What if I want to try to race faster, or race longer distances?  What if this summer I want to tell my family and friends that I need to pass on the Saturday night patio, because I have an early morning ride the next morning?  What if I want to make this a priority?  But even so, to what end?  I’m never going to be a pro.  I’m realistically never really going to “compete” (other than competing against myself).  Is that worth the trade off?  Maybe…

I’m at a crossroads, and I don’t know which way I’m leaning.  I know that I’m really proud of the work I did this month.  And I know that I’m really tired.  And I don’t know what to do with that.

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