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Beginner’s Luck: There’s More To Life Than Triathlon

Meredith Atwood on using this sport as a tool to bring out the good in yourself and others, not the opposite.

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Meredith Atwood on using this sport as a tool to bring out the good in yourself and others, not the opposite.

Time and time again I hear that someone is fighting with their spouse about triathlon training and “time away” from the house. I’ll hear about the ultimate discord that triathlon training is causing some relationships—not just significant others, but also parent-child, friendships and co-workers. Sometimes a relationship that is deteriorating, whether it’s a romantic relationship or a toxic work environment, was on the way out anyway. Other times, I think that we need to work a little bit harder to refocus on what is important.

When we are bit by the triathlon bug, it’s easy to go “all in” and make triathlon a very real obsession; after all, it is the greatest sport in the world, right? Where we used to sit on the couch watching Netflix and drinking beer with our best person all night long, and we are suddenly turning in for a 9 p.m. bedtime (on a weekend!), and waking up at 5 a.m. to be on the bike. Naturally, the other people in our lives may wonder what alien has jumped inside of our body and taken over.

One of my focuses as a triathlete and especially as a triathlon coach is to remind myself and my athletes that there is more to life than triathlon. (Yes, it’s true.) Even if you are making a living at the sport, you still have important people in your life to pay attention to—or at least a pet, right? It’s easy to get mired down in the details of swimming, cycling and running and all the data that goes along with it that we forget to download our most important parameters for progress: Are we happy? Are the people we love happy?

A few simple things can go a long way to creating a better living environment with the sport of triathlon. First, ask yourself if triathlon is adding to your life or taking away from it. If you think tri is a bigger burden than the nastiest of jobs, then it’s time for a reassessment on the training schedule, the goal race or the sport in general. What does your life need? Really listen to that, because often the gut is correct. Next, remember to be thankful and express gratitude for the people in your life. Even when you may not have the most supportive people around you, it’s easier to be kind and thankful than grouchy and bitter. Make a choice, and choose gratitude—it comes around. Finally, use the sport and the training as a pair of joyful glasses which you can look through and see the good in your life. Take a breath and see the awesome in your strong body, the love in your heart for your “people” and the appreciation for the nature around you. The “tri-colored glasses,” when used in this way, really do a wonderful job, and don’t fog up either.