If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll likely know that in just a few weeks (16 days to be precise) I’m doing my very first Triathlon.
I’ve documented most of my journey via the wonderful app that is Instagram and I’ve loved sharing the ups and the downs, to which there have been more than a handful, but that’s all part of it. What I haven’t really disclosed though, is why tri? Why choose something so different and so challenging?
Well, here’s more about my why.
I signed up to the Midsomer Norton Triathlon on June 2nd. I’d not long been back from Thailand and was going through the motions of a few big changes (more on that here!) and in all honesty, I was feeling a bit lost with my fitness journey.
Working out is my escape. It’s MY time. An hour or so a day that I dedicate totally to myself. Headphones in, outside world off – its one of the best forms of self care. However, I didn’t really have anything to aim or work toward. I thought about signing up to a marathon, but every time I went running I immediately hated it. So that was quickly off the table. Powerlifting isn’t for me, neither is bikini competing. I cannot play sport – I am extremely uncoordinated so I felt like I’d hit a wall with it all.
I’m also not a PT, exercise instructor or professionally qualified so I felt like I was just floating along. I almost felt as though I was letting myself down. I was desperate to have something to focus my energy and time on that didn’t have anything to do with how I looked.
My uncle was training for an Ironman at the time (which he completed in an insanely good time!!) and every time we caught up, I was just in total awe of his dedication, motivation and love for it. The 5am alarms for open water swims didn’t put him off, neither did the thought of cycling in torrential rain.
That’s what I wanted. I wanted that drive, motivation and most importantly purpose. I wanted to feel the immense feeling of accomplishment when I cross that finish line because it’s me who would have completed it.
I’ve completed two half marathons and trust me when I say there is no better feeling when you cross that line. It’s a complete rush of emotion and both times, I cried.
I am beyond nervous and about 3 weeks ago, I had a moment when I almost pulled out completely. I was on holiday and whilst swimming, I genuinely couldn’t do it. Coughing, spluttering, drinking half the pool – you name it and that was me. It totally knocked my confidence because the swim was the part I was least concerned about. When I was younger, I used to swim competitively – I was pretty good and then just like that, it was my weakest discipline.
After feeling extremely sorry for myself, I decided I had two choices. Firstly, give up. Or secondly, remove the pressures of ‘getting a good’ time, stress less, train a little more and try and enjoy it. I’m sure you’ve guessed it, but I went with the latter.
I signed up for ME and I am going to finish it for ME. No-one else time matters and no-one else’s opinions matter. What’s a good time anyway?
So, I got back in the water, back on my bike and back out running and although it was tricky, it gave me the nudge to keep going.
The whole experience is meant to be fun! I’m a total newbie and everyone has to start somewhere.
One of the many things that training for this tri has taught me is that we don’t spend a lot of time doing the things that we’re bad at.
In the gym, I’m okay at most things and I’ve built up my strength. Essentially, I spend time trying to get better at things I’m already semi-good at. Deadlifts for example.
Well, I wasn’t even semi-good at cycling before signing up to this challenge, but I think that’s why part of me decided to NOT give up. Because it isn’t easy and it is hard work. The hardest sessions are the ones that make you question why you signed up but they’re also the most rewarding (once you’ve finished!).
If there’s one thing that I’d say to anyone who might be questioning signing up to a triathlon, you absolutely do not need to be a fitness freak or pro to sign up. You just need time, drive and motivation.
Of course you can’t go from 0-100 and I’d really recommend getting a training programme. There are so many (FREE!) resources online and they really help.
For the first 2 or so weeks, I didn’t have one and was just trying to do it all – it does not work. You will burnout and could risk injury. Two things you’ll probably want to avoid!
Like anyone else, there are times when I don’t want to train. But in those times, I remind myself that being able to train for something like this is a privilege.. What if I wasn’t able to go for a run or get on my bike? My body is healthy, functional and enables me to tri.
For me, one of the most rewarding aspects of this whole triathlon experience has been the mindset shift in how I approach training. I now (really really) ensure I am adequately fuelled to workout. I don’t care if I’m dripping with sweat whilst running or need to swap to the slower lanes whilst swimming. How I look whilst training doesn’t matter to me at all.
My body has changed and I’ve accepted that it’s going too. My shoulders, my legs – they’re stronger than before. Rewind 8 years ago and I wouldn’t have been able to even consider change that didn’t involve shrinking.
So, thank you Body for accepting and welcoming change.
Thank you to my uncle for being such an incredible aspirational role model.
And thank you to everyone who has sent me the kindest words, shared tips, tricks and motivational messages. It has kept me going when I really was at breaking point.
A FEW TIPS AND TRICKS IF YOU’RE THINKING OF DOING YOUR FIRST TRIATHLON.
1. Get a bike and ride it. Ride as much as you can.
2. Incorporate BRICK sessions into your training.
3. Invest in good energy gels/ drinks.
4. Don’t panic about the swim. If front crawl isn’t your thing, don’t force it.
5. Enjoy it! Don’t put pressure on yourself for getting an exceptional time if its your very first race!
6. Oh, and read Louise Minchins’ book ‘Dare To Tri’.
Have you every done a triathlon before? If you have, please please do let me know! DM, comments, emails – I’d love to hear your story.