I recently got a question from one of our triathletes that is not uncommon in our sport. To paraphrase, “I am questioning why I am pushing myself so hard, why I try to fit training in amidst other commitments, and why do I put so much pressure on myself in races?” Essentially, this person was questioning the purpose of training and racing. These are tough but good questions as we seek to maintain purpose and priorities in life.
If your only goal in this sport is to get faster, you will likely find it to be meaningless in the end. Ultimately, you won’t last long in the sport. I have been in this sport for over 25 years and seen many people come and go while others stay in it (healthily) for the long haul. Those that are able to do so long term are those who have always have a greater purpose, good perspective, and always sought balance.
I believe triathlon (and all endurance sports) are good and can make you a better parent, spouse, employee, and person. If done right, triathlon will make your life better and positively impact those around you. But, it can also be taken too far and instead of adding to the other areas of your life, it can detract from them. If you find this is the case, it is time to make changes now. Sometimes this requires a reduction in your training hours, but oftentimes it can be found more in a simple shift of mindset. What I mean by this is recognizing it is a sport (a hobby even) and your identity is not wrapped up in this. Therefore, instead of it putting more pressure on you or taking away from more important things, triathlon should be viewed as a vehicle to better the other areas of your life and your complete self as a human being.
When frustrated by life balance, I believe that giving up training altogether would be a tragedy in how it will impact the rest of our lives negatively. Instead, we need to focus on our priorities and see how training should and can fit into them healthily for the long-term.