There are many reasons I love triathlon. The toys, a never-ending drive to find new physical and mental limits, and the excitement of the finisher’s chute sit toward the top of my list.
But as I thought about the best guest post for Jason’s blog, I realized that the reason I get up in the morning to train is because of something even bigger. And it involves you, even though we’ve probably never met.
I played sports my entire life, team-oriented and individual. My childhood and early adult life revolved around soccer, tennis, basketball, and volleyball. The communication in each of those sports focused mostly on the same topic, strategizing how to beat someone or a rival team. Think about it. If you were anything other than a triathlete, most talk among coaches and teammates centered on how to beat a defense, strike out a hitter, or expose a weakness of some kind. Your win meant someone else’s loss. That doesn’t mean we ignore this discussion in triathlon, but it’s largely irrelevant if the complexities of technique in three sports, diet, and recovery aren’t mastered first. And then there’s mental fortitude, which serves as the foundation of it all.
Now think about how we do communicate in the triathlon community. When was the last time you texted a friend specifically to learn how to go faster than someone else? Or name a time when your triathlon team huddled up next to a chalkboard to diagram how to win the team points championship at an Ironman event. No, it’s different. Our communication, as evidenced by Jason’s blog, is about helping each other improve. We strive to learn together. We motivate each other. We share detailed race reports. We don’t shit-talk. We don’t posterize. We are a communal community, a team among teams.
When I train and race, I gain physical and mental strength. But in doing so, I strengthen others by inviting them on the journey. And when I’m weak or downtrodden, as I was the last 10 days while recovering from bronchitis, I draw from that same community – especially inspirational friends like Jason – to speed me back to life. We support each other, and as a result, we all win.
In a way, I see training as an offering to a larger karmic diety. The miles don’t matter as much. It’s about the experience we gain from them that is then filtered back into the community through blogs like this, social media posts, and even sending someone “kudos” on Strava.
I hope you remember that the next time you’re on the fence about whether to complete a workout. Do it. Share it. We need you.
Ryan Schneider is a five-time Ironman finisher and a member of the Wattie Ink Elite Team. When he’s not marketing video games for Insomniac Games as its brand development director, Ryan writes for Ironman.com and Lava Magazine Online. He occasionally blogs too at http://ironmadman.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @theironmadman.