Reflections at 40 – Triathlon – 2/40

To celebrate turning 40, I’ve challenged myself to blog for each of the 40 days leading into my birthday. This is post number 2. You can read all the posts here.

If you have an addictive personality, and are especially addicted to ‘gold stars’, triathlon is the sport for you. If you want to ramp up things up a bit, ensure you suck at swimming. That’s what I did and it worked a treat for me over the years (until it didn’t – but, more on that later).

My friend Fiona was a brilliant swimmer who was always out of the water first, or close to first. Unfortunately, her cycling and running skills didn’t correlate with those she displayed in water so she would spend the rest of the race having people go past her. (In triathlon you swim first, bike second, run third.)

Not me. In my early years, I was always one of the last from the water (like, proper last) which meant I’d spend the rest of the race whizzing past people and enjoying a little dopamine hit every time I passed someone.

It was awesome in the early days – certainly enough to get hooked. Soon enough, however, I wanted more.

Triathlon didn’t just award medals to the overall race winners – it awarded prizes to the top three males and females in each age group too. So, this became my next goal – becoming the best in my age group.

I would spend hours poring over race results, comparing my time for each leg (swim, bike, run) to my competitors and figuring out where I could pick up time. The beauty of having three disciplines to work on meant you were pretty much always improving on something.

And, really, that improvement is what drove me. People thought I loved being competitive with others. The reality was, the person I’ve always most loved competing with is myself.

I never imagined I would quit triathlon but after 10 years I found I was having to train harder than I ever had to achieve improvements that were incremental at best.

It was time to move on and find something that could deliver gold stars in a more reliable fashion.

 

Comments 6

  1. I have a slow-burning love of triathlon. It’s the sport I really want to do but have only done 6 short races in the last 10 years. But now it’s time to give it a good crack.

    Like you, others think I’m competitive – but I’m mostly competing against myself. Desperate to beat my previous time. To be honest though…I’m not built for triathlon (or sport) so comparing my achievements to others would probably mean I’d never do another one.

  2. Your article resonates with me. I played netball. I had comradery. I led. I played hard. I won. I fought. I got trophies. I had enemies. Netball fed my highly competitive nature and for many years I thought that it was a way to measure my self-worth. Silly, really.

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