Have you ever had a full-body YES? You know those moments when without giving your brain time to process, your entire body shrieks, YES! I’ve had a few and I’ve tried paying more attention when my body has that reaction. When every piece of our being says, YES! It seems like we should listen. In fact, we should lean into those moments purely in spite of the vulnerability that ‘YES’ may bring. It was one of those full-body yeses that led me to sign up for my first triathlon. A neighbor mentioned their upcoming triathlon and I shouted from my heart, I want to do that! A few weeks later, I put my fears aside and signed up for a sprint triathlon. I had twelve weeks to train. At that point, I had never completed a 5K. I couldn’t have completed one had I tried that day. There was a lot of training ahead. Mostly, at thirty-two, I wanted to see what this ole girl was capable of.
Explore Your Limits
The most important thing you can do is take the time to train. It’s necessary. When it comes to any endurance sport, you could seriously injure yourself attempting one of these feats without training properly. In a triathlon, you train or drown. (Not really! They’re very well staffed with lifeguards.)
Listen, though, the training is the best part of the journey. It’s the climb – the journey to the top – where we grow and transition as people. The training will be tough, but when it gets tough, push forward. Few things are more impressive than seeing your body endure a little more week after week. It becomes an active meditation.
If You Aren’t Looking To Go Pro, You Don’t Have To Have Fancy Equipment
Triathlons can be expensive. From the entry fees to the tri-suits to the speed bikes, and all the other equipment you may need quickly adds up. But what if you’re in it for the experience – you only want to see if you can hang? If that’s the case, you can get by without the fanciest equipment. You’ll be slower. If your finishing time matters to you, then you will need to invest in the good stuff. On the other hand, if you’re only exploring the strength of your endurance then yes, you can get by using a mountain bike, or a beach cruiser, as I did – though, the beach cruiser is tough if your tri-route has any hills. It is do-able though. The point is, if you really want to do it, don’t let the equipment costs be a deterrent.
Gather Your Cheerleaders
I didn’t realize it until I was on the course, but having family and friends to cheer you on is so key. In the height of it, seeing people you love, works as a motivator to keep you pushing forward. It’s not always easy to keep pushing forward, so any added benefit helps. Plus, it’s really nice to celebrate together after.
Be A Cheerleader
Perhaps, the most surprising thing about my tri experience was realizing how much joy I get out of motivating others. My favorite part of the entire process was that feeling I got when passing by another racer and cheering them on to keep going! It was like a rush of energy every time I cheered for someone else during the race, a complete stranger. The community of endurance sports can be quite beautiful, and it can also be the motivating factor that gets you across the finish line.
One of the obvious benefits of training for an endurance sport are the physical bonuses. At thirty-two, I’ve never been in better shape. I’ve never had such definition to my muscles or been as strong as I am now. Plus, I’m more aware of what I’m consuming. You are what you eat, and the energy you have is very much based on what you eat. Want more energy? Change your diet. Perhaps the biggest added value of endurance sports is the mental benefits. Getting on a regular workout routine does magic for your mental state. With endurance training, because you’re doing the same activity for such long periods, you can reach a meditative state with the activity – it’s all about finding your pace and steadying your breath.
Finding Joy Where You Least Expect It
Going into the race, I was certain swimming would be my favorite section of the race. I’ve been a swimmer my whole life. I was a lifeguard in college and took multiple swimming courses. It’s long been my favorite form of exercise. Looking back, I realize it was my favorite because finding your pace comes so naturally with swimming. You have to figure out your breath, or lack thereof, to keep swimming. When you’re focusing on your breath, it’s easy for any exercise to become meditative-like. I still trained for the swimming, but I didn’t put as much heart into it as the running and biking because those were activities I’d never completed endurance training for.
Biking is so much fun. I still get giddy like I did as a child when I feel the wind blowing against my face. Riding for long periods was relatively easy. My training fears were with the running. As a kid, I was fast. I used to do well with sprints and dashes, but I’d never run more than two miles in my entire life. I envied those folks who found joy in running because I could never get there. Soon enough, I realized, I hadn’t found my pace. Listening to your body is key. Whether your listening for a full-body YES or for your body to tell you – hey, this is our speed. Tuning your attention inward is key. After finding my pace, I discovered my joy for running. A kickass running playlist – filled with songs that fit your pace – will help tremendously. Here’s mine for motivation.
Did I complete my first triathlon? Damn straight I did. I was not the quickest out there, not even close! Some folks circled me twice on their speed bikes, while I was chugging uphill on my beach cruiser. Still, I kept going and that was what I set out to see – how far I could keep going. Your body has impressive limits. I challenge you to see what you’re made of.
My biggest takeaways from the race were the joys of pushing my own limits and motivating others. Those two things were magical lessons that I will carry with me in my day-to-day. Do I plan to jump back on the tri-path immediately? No. I never wanted to go pro, I only wanted to see if I could do it. I did sign up for a 10K though!
Go out there and show yourself what you’re made of, and start listening for a full-body YES.