Yesterday I had the privilege of watching the WTS Triathlon World Championships on the Gold Coast. And what an experience that was! As with any World Championships, the home crowd was out in force, the cheering and shouts of encouragement were at fever pitch, and the atmosphere was just electric!
And that was for the age group race!
I’m not kidding. The feeling of excitement that permeated the air was awesome, and it was such an experience to be able to personally support clients, team mates, friends, and every other Aussie out there on course – it didn’t matter that you’d never met Dianne before, she was out there in the Aussie kit giving it her all for herself and her country! It united us in that moment, and we both felt pride at the connection – supporter and supported. And it was the same everywhere you looked – kiwis shouting for random kiwis, Brits supporting random Brits, cheers, yells, waves and high fives flying around. Amazing!
But I’m not here to wax lyrical about the excitement of personal connection with strangers, as cool as that is. I’m here to talk about a few things that I took away from yesterday, that really got me thinking on the drive home. And which I wanted to share with you, because I think it’s relevant to all of us at various times training and competing in triathlon.
The first thing that really got me thinking was Why? Why were people so willing to commit so much to racing that race? Committing to months of qualifying events, months of constant training, months of specific preparation, personal sacrifice, time, effort, and expense at flying to the other side of the world for a 2-3h event? Why?! What on earth made the 80-84 year-old men and women want to slog it out under the hot sun with winds up to 50 km/h?! Why did they come to the other side of the world for that?! There had to be a reason.
What I think? It all comes down to purpose. There are a couple of definitions for purpose in the Oxford Dictionary:
“The reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists”.
“A person’s sense of resolve or determination”.
No doubt about it, every single one of those athletes out there on course yesterday certainly had purpose for being out there pushing themselves to the limits. A reason for putting in all that hard work, dedication and commitment for the past year that brought them to that start line. Each one was different, each had personal meaning, and each got them through that tough day to the finish line – and to the accomplishment of their personal goal. Sure, some were out for the win, absolutely, but that’s a personal reason as well, a willingness to take on that challenge; most were out there for the privilege of representing their country for the first time; others were there for the home World Championships experience; some were there to race with and for family members; and others were there for the personal challenge, to see what they were capable of achieving when they committed themselves to a goal. And what better place to do that than a World Championships?! Whatever the reason was, it gave every one of those athletes’ purpose.
And you could see it in their faces; you saw the emotion – the determination, expectation, hope, happiness, and eventually – euphoria at crossing that finish line, and achieving what they had personally set out to do. If that’s not inspiring, I don’t know what is!
I remember racing the 2008 Duathlon World Championships in Italy with an 84 year-old guy on the Aussie team, and believe me did that guy have a purpose! He was out to beat his arch rival Bill from the States, complete with the usual sledging and trash talk for the week leading up to the big showdown – now that was a sight to see! And what an accomplishment – I only hope I’m out there sledging the other old ducks on the start line when I’m 84 years old!
You only feel truly happy when you are making progress step by step, towards something that is important to you. – Brian Tracy
So our 84-year old friend had it, the awesome athletes out there yesterday had it, so how do we get it?!
If you are in this situation now – you’re training for triathlon but you’re not committed to a race or a program – you’re just not feeling it – how do you get back on track? How do you reclaim your sense of purpose?
I was in this situation a couple of years ago and I ended up taking a break from competitive racing for a while; I had lost the enjoyment and the drive to train consistently, and so I stepped away, and tried other sports. And you know what? It worked a treat! For me, the break reignited the flame to go back and compete – and watching the race yesterday has absolutely sealed the deal! Why? Because now I have a reason. Hallelujah! (I spoke about reconnecting with your goals in last week’s post, which may also come in handy for you here).
So, what made me feel like racing again? Asking myself the following questions – and l’ll share my answers to show you how this works.
To reconnect with your purpose, ask yourself:
- What is it about racing that makes me want to do it?
ME: A sense of achievement at accomplishing a goal; pride at what I am capable of; confidence in my body that it can handle the physical stress of racing; challenging myself to be better; the euphoria of pushing yourself to the limits; feeling like I’m flying on the run (though it may not look it!); and being able to share the experience with friends and teammates.
- Am I willing to do what it takes in training to achieve this goal? What will I get from these months of training?
ME: Yes. And: commitment (to a goal); discipline and structure; the opportunity to improve my strength and fitness; an opportunity to improve my health; a physical outlet for work/life stress (me time); social connection at training; and a sense of belonging (to a group of likeminded people).
And then of course, the second thing I started pondering was how (I know, always the practical one!).
- What now? What do I actually need to do to start training for this race?
ME: Choose a race that inspires me and ENTER; get a training program/sign-up to a squad; rearrange my schedule to accommodate training; mentally commit to the process; set my goal for the race; attend the training sessions; enjoy the process; race!
OK, so there may be a few more details in step 3, but you get the gist! So tell me, do you have a purpose for entering another race? What do you need to do to make that race a reality? Remember, purpose is personal, so as long as you are connected with your sense of purpose, you’ll have everything you need to get you through those inevitable tough moments on the road to achieving your goal. What’s next for you?
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