In the past I have always felt a little insecure about identifying myself as a Triathlete. I have been competing in Triathlons for over 5 years but only recently have gotten comfortable with the title. One would think that after completing an Ironman and having Mike Reilly announce “You are an Ironman” would resolve any doubt I might still foster about deserving the title. But truly that was not the turning point for me..
The road to believing I warranted a place in the Triathlete community was paved with hard work. Never before have I had to dedicate myself to a single solitary focus. As Margaret Mead said “ I learned the value of hard work by working hard”. I was not endowed with a given talent for sport. Running has been a long time focus for me because it did not require special body type, physical skills, reflexes or flexibility. Biking and swimming have come along after long periods of repetitive practice sessions.
I listen to a Podcast with author Malcolm Gladwell who discussed his book “Outliers” and the 10,000 hour rule. His message to me in this talk was basically that I could overcome many short comings I have in confidence, attitude and natural ability through an intense yet targeted training plan. In essence, hardworking athletes can make up the gaps in natural ability with a substantial increase in hours of focused practice. Now I’m not suggesting 10,000 hours of practice are required…..or even possible for most age groupers, but getting up from 5 hrs a week to over 20 hours consistently was the turning point which strengthened my belief system and allowed me to feel like I was living the life of a Triathlete. Kind of a “Doing is Believing” scenario.
So now that my target race is done…and I’m back to the 5-10 hrs a week training regime I find myself not feeling very much like a Triathlete. I suppose that is why some get the infamous M Dot tattoo so they can be reminded that they are still triathletes. For me getting back to that early morning targeted workout schedule is my road back to believing I’m still a triathlete. It’s a fleeting sense of identity I don’t take lightly.. It’s an honor and one that must be earned. I believe a Triathletes honor is not in the reward they receive. The honor I have come to learn, has been the reward earned from for what they gave.