Friday, March 27, 2020

Lessons from Endurance

I recently got the results back from an athletic-based DNA test, where my genetic expressions of "gifted" traits, pointed to high potential in sports like power lifting, body building, or being a "linebacker." (Seriously.) Based on my athletic background, and the sports and skills that have always come most easily to me, I could have predicted this. If I wanted to capitalize on my natural physical abilities, I would have never found my way to endurance sports. But instead, I've always chosen to follow my intuition and my heart, and that is exactly how I found Ironman.

Up to this point in my Ironman career, I've been able to tally up the lessons that I've learned through pushing the limits of my endurance. I've continued to sign up for race after race because even though the lessons have been challenging and uncomfortable, they've been my platform for growth and resilience as both an athlete and a person. Each one has given me a new perspective on what I have control over, what I don't have control over, where I need to improve, and when I have to let go.

I firmly believe that Ironman has strengthened my armor and built my character. And now that it has been put on pause, it's time to turn the tables and use this challenging time in life to build upon my foundation. Coming out stronger on the other side of this pandemic is as much, if not more, a feat of endurance as any race I've ever done. It took me a little while to recognize it as such, but thanks to triathlon, I know that I am trained for this.

I've been intently focused on improving my speed at the Ironman distance for a few years now, so it has been a while since my goals have been related to conquering a new distance. And I think I forgot that the first thing you have to do when stepping up to a new distance is to slow down.

It has to be about survival and expansion before it can be about speed.
There's a learning curve and there's a whole lot of failing that comes before mastery.

I still feel myself oscillating between acceptance and resistance. I go through phases where I feel restless and I just want everything to go back to normal. Sometimes in the middle of a long race, I go through phases where I just want the pain to stop and I get caught up in that feeling. Comfort is so easy. Normal is easy. What's known is easy. And sometimes you convince yourself that those things are what makes you happy. But in order to get myself through those phases, I remember that resisting the low points doesn't make them go away, and letting them have control over me is never worth settling for. So I've learned to surrender to the process and embrace the deep discomfort that comes with growth.

I love this quote attributed to an anonymous Navy Seal: "Under pressure, you don't rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training. That's why we train so hard."

As endurance athletes, we know this truth too well. We know that without putting ourselves through the fire, we would miss the opportunity to learn what we're made of and what we've trained for. We also know that sometimes by putting ourselves out there, we may find out that we didn't train hard enough or prepare well enough. But it is simply the courageous act of stepping into the arena where we have to face our shortcomings, that we learn exactly what they are and how to conquer them next time.

So right now we might feel a little lost because we're missing our arena. Races are canceled and we don't know when they'll be back. But I'm going to challenge myself to see this pandemic as our current arena. It looks different on the surface, but this is all about endurance. I love that my sport has gotten me to this point: where I'm far from handling things perfectly, but my gratitude and appreciation for a challenge is what keeps driving me forward.

No comments:

Post a Comment

New Bio, who dis?

As I've witnessed myself shift and change, I've been experimenting with some new coaching strategies. Most of my athletes know that ...