A Little Perspective

A few years ago, back when I was just starting out in triathlon, I went along to a focus group session – a session to talk about all things triathlon. The first activity that afternoon was as an icebreaker where we were given the choice of either crayons, textas or pencils, and without speaking to one another, on butchers paper, we had to draw what triathlon means to us. We had about five minutes to come up with our artwork.

“Fun! Where are the crayons?” was my excited reaction as I bee-lined for the brightest crayons I could find.

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Shortly afterwards it was “pens down”, and we were told to pair up, and take turns explaining our drawings to each other. I remember feeling a little silly at the time having chosen the brightest crayons I could find and drawing rainbows, butterflies and smiley faces, while triathletes who I had admired and looked up to had opted for dark colours, black mountains to climb; thunder and lightning. Yikes!

Triathlon was all sunshine and butterflies to me – it was my happy place. Yet these athletes, who had been in the sport for years seemed to have become jaded? I didn’t get it – why?

Fast-forward about six years, and I’m the one on the edge of black textas, mountains, dark clouds, and thunder and lightning. DRA-MA!

Triathlon has become a battleground and a massive guilt trip (and not the fun kind of trip, let me tell you). Guilt for not getting to that training session; guilt for being tired and bee-lining for the couch after another long day at work instead of going for that tempo run; guilt for not getting up for swimming; then guilt for not spending time with family or cancelling on dinner with a friend, again, because you know, training.

Ah! It’s a little bit nuts.

Your hobby (because let’s face it, that’s all it really is… unless of course, you’re a pro… which, then it’s a different story, maybe?) is meant to be fun – something you enjoy, right? I mean people who play mixed-netball or indoor soccer during the week don’t seem to be constantly guilt-ridden.

So, after a few weeks of motivational TED talks and ‘Get Your Sh*T Together’ self-help books, talking to my coach and some incredible friends – I’m determined to get back to my triathlon happy-place.

I’ve discovered that for triathlon to work for me, I need to fit triathlon around my life, rather than trying to fit my life around triathlon.

For it to work for me, I need to be able to pick and choose from sessions that will work for me, regardless of what group or squad it’s with – I have a pretty amazing coach who totally gets this, and who is on the same page as me on this one.

So, if this means swimming with one squad and running with another, and then swapping my long weekend rides and runs, so be it. If this means doing strength and core sessions from home to maximise my time, awesome. If this means running to and from work to get extra runs in, brilliant. It’s about making it all fit in with me rather than me trying and failing miserably, to fit into a rigid regime.

And so far it’s worked. I’m happy and motivated instead of feeling guilty all the time. I’m even back in the pool and have been swimming with an awesome crew. And I’ll let you in on a little secret – I’m actually starting to enjoy swimming. Say, WHAT? Maybe there is hope for me yet – Ha!

So, while I may never be the greatest or most talented athlete out there, and heck, while I may never get to Kona, I’m going to keep having fun with this sport. After all, it’s a hobby, and hobbies are meant to be fun. The ‘fun’ part is the reason why I took this sport up in the first place.

One a side note…

I’m also really excited about racing (well, racing is a loose term really – ha!) in Race 4 of the Gatorade Triathlon Series, in Portarlington this weekend. It’s going to be an awesome weekend! Swim, bike run – it’s so much fun!


Margaret Mielczarek

Margaret Mielczarek is the deputy editor at Australian Triathlete Magazine and writes the web series 'Shenanigans of a Deputy 2.0'. She is a passionate age-group triathlete and four-time Ironman finisher - currently in training for Ironman number five!

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