Ironman weekend is one of my favorites of the year. It is busy. It is chaotic. It is exhausting, even when only spectating. I believe that my empathetic connection to my athletes and their experience is one thing that makes me a good coach. But it also means that I absorb a lot of their energy—the nerves, the excitement, and even some of the post-race letdown too.
I ask every person who comes to work with me WHY they want to hire a coach. Then I keep probing them to investigate and verbalize WHY they want to take on their goals. I am honored to know why each of my athletes showed up to the start line this past weekend, and how that WHY likely kept them moving forward through their races. And as I witnessed the result of all of their hard work and dedication, it led me to look within and ask:
Why do I still do this?
I’ve answered this before in this blog, from an overarching standpoint and from a goal specific one. But, it is always changing. In fact, I weekly question whether or not I still want to do triathlon, or endurance sports in general. And not when I am reacting to negative feelings about my training. But, because I have loved it so much that I never want to be resentful of it. It has been so life changing for me that I want to make sure it is still adding value to my life and continues to align with the core of who I am and want to be in the world.
I am ever evolving, so my honest assessment of endurance sports needs to continue to be evaluated. And upon reflection, I still have a burning passion and love for my hobby and career.
And I know why.
My reason for swimming, biking, running, and strength training regularly has never really been about my physical health. As an educated professional in the fitness industry, I am very aware that if I want to optimally care for my physical body I will eat nourishing food, drink lots of water, sleep well, drink alcohol and eat junk food in moderation, and move my body daily (including providing impact exercises for bone health and resistance training to maintain strength).
I don’t do endurance sports to remain healthy, to maintain my weight, or especially not out of a need to give myself permission to eat.
My why right now is to positively impact my mental well-being. My daily training routine burns up anxiety, lifts the fog in my brain, stabilizes raging emotions and hormones, keeps me connected to the sensations in my body (which in turn provides a lot of positive impact on my physical health!). My training sessions help me sort the voices of my brain and stimulates creativity. I often use my running time to listen to inspirational and informational podcasts and books. I train with friends whenever I can to bond over a shared experience. Training fills my heart with peace and overall gives me a zest for life.
I also love to race. I race with curiosity over what my body and mind are capable of at each event, throughout each stage of my life. Having a race goal provides the accountability I need to grow. To continue to actively learn to better connect to my athletes and my team. To step away from comfort and embrace uncertainty.
Curiosity helps me remain grounded in my races. I try to stay gentle and compassionate with myself and my body, rather than reacting out of fear, frustration, or an attitude of scarcity. I race at my best when I continue to ask myself what I need in the moment in order to work toward the task at hand. I don’t give up when I challenge my body out of love. And then I take the honest struggles, joys, successes, and failures forward to hopefully inspire all of you to do the same.
Staying curious also helps me generally live with less judgment of myself, my circumstances, or of others (my athletes included). I believe it helps me love better, (albeit still imperfectly).
In parting, I want to offer some questions for you to consider today:
- WHY are you living the life you are currently living?
- How are you getting to know YOU better?
- How are you inspiring or impacting others/humanity?
- And how can you cultivate a more curious attitude to benefit your outlook on life, your relationships, your well being, and even sharpen your athletic capabilities?
Reflect and fill yourself up. Then go make that impact in the world. It needs all of us operating from the realness of who we are.
And if you want some accountability or encouragement please send your answers to me. Or we can chat about them over coffee. Connecting with real humans is truly what this is all about.