Why I Do What I Do

Today was an incredibly glorious day, one made for running.  So run I did.  Today was interval training.  Forty-five minutes of hard work.  And during one of those recovery periods where I walked to bring down my heart rate, I started thinking.  If people asked me why I do triathlons and put myself through what some would term hell, what would I tell them?  Well, as you can imagine, that got me thinking.  What, exactly, would I say?  I think it boils down to four things.

I do triathlons because I want to get into shape. Well, that’s kind of a “duh” reason, but I do think it’s a big one.  Triathlons are swims, bikes, and runs.  The lengths vary depending on the type of race (sprint vs. Olympic vs. Half-Ironman).  So the training makes me use different muscle groups.  But also, I’m not one who likes to be on strict diets, and the exercise allows me to eat a little more freely than I could if I did no exercise at all.

I do triathlons because I like doing things that many people don’t. This was an especially interesting thing to learn last year when I was the last finisher (no, not last place) at the 36 North Triathlon last year.  I kept lamenting on how poorly I felt I did until my good friend gently admonished, “Hey, look at it this way.  You did something that not a lot of people can do.”  That’s true.  It’s a unique adventure.  And one that, for a number of reasons, a lot of people can’t or choose not to do.  I like unique adventures like this or hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

I do triathlons because I want to be an encouragement to others. I’m no fish, race car, or cheetah, yet I still participate in triathlons.  It’s a sport where speed is not a necessity, even when those who are totally into the $3,000 bikes with the cool wheels and light frames think so.  No, if you have a swimsuit, a bike, and a decent pair of running shoes, triathlons are possible.  And for those women out there who think it’s beyond your reach, I dare say that it isn’t.  Several races are now for women only and serve as a great introduction to the sport.  For those in the Carolinas or Virginia, check out Dash for Divas.  If you can swim 250 meters, bike seven miles on flat ground, and run two miles on flat ground, then most likely, you can do this event.  I would love to see Olympic-distance triathlon participation one day be more then the current one-third women.

I do triathlons because it toughens me mentally. This may seem strange to some people, but I can tell you that while triathlons do require physical training, it is also a sport that is at least half mental.  Case in point.  Last year, I competed in the 36 North (yes, where I finished last).  When I finished the bike part in second-to-last place, I wanted to quit.  I so wanted to quit.  My husband was right there, encouraging me, offering to run with me even though he’d already run a 5k when he finished his own race.  I told him tonight that I was glad I didn’t quit.  So, I do triathlons because there will be times in my life where I do want to quit whatever race God puts me in.  It could be the loss of a job.  An illness in the family.  A medical diagnosis.  Or, insert your own crisis.  In these events, the temptation to curl up and quit life in some form or fashion is high.  But to truly live instead of just survive requires a mental toughness to endure.  So, perhaps, that’s one of the biggest reasons why I do triathlons.

So if someone ever asks me why, I’ll simply point them to this post.  And whatever you do, think about the reasons behind it.  Then you too can explain why you do what you do.

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