I may not actually be qualified to write this post. Sane? Me? Okay, fine. I’m out on a limb here. Like in law, when a kid signs a contract–the contract is no good. Minors can’t sign contracts. Merediths can’t give this kind of advice. I get it.
So this post may be like a toddler signing a mortgage. Still, some toddlers are very perceptive. So we’ll go with me as a perceptive toddler…. and you can take what you will from it.
Here are Ten Ways to Tri to Stay Sane:
1) Find Your Quiet Space
For me, triathlon was finding a quiet space in my head and my heart. Long runs, bikes and swimming drowned out the noise of the law, the toughness of parenthood, and the difficulties of marriage. I leave the long workouts completely tired and beaten up…but I also leave a better wife, mother and employee. Because I took time for myself.
2) Change Yourself
Really? I’m not supposed to “accept” myself for “who I am”?
Yes, if you like who you are.
If you don’t like who you are…change it. Don’t like your job? Find another one. Don’t like your spouse? Well, guess he can go too. You are miserable in school? Pick another calling.
Am I over-simplifying? Of course. But think about it…
You are not a tree. Get moving…whether it’s forward or out… You live once. Get going. “Get busy living or get busy dying.” (Shawshank quote of all quotes). Make changes to yourself and in your journey, you’ll find snippets of sanity.
3) Pick Your Poisons
Hi, I’m Meredith and I’m an addict. WHAT?!?!
Okay, now I am not going to give you guys that much of a heart-attack. But I am an addict… I am addicted to everything. If I “like” something, I love it and squeeze it until there’s nothing left. Food, writing, triathlon, beer, social media… if I like it, I love it, and I am addicted to it.
I have found that one way to stay sane is to pick “healthier” addictions. Once upon a time, not too terribly long ago, I smoked. (ACK! I know.) But that was a terrible addiction. And as much as I can taste a tall pint of beer, a bar stool and a Marlboro right now, I have let that particular poison go… and instead, I turned my bar-stool love (addiction) into a bike seat love (cycling addiction). My personality doesn’t seem to lend itself to moderation, so I’ll just find better things to obsess over.
I tri, so I don’t fall back into bad habits. And so my daughter won’t make this face permanently:
4) Encourage Others
My friend, Yoda, is so awesome. She’s a tri-ing woman of iron, just finishing her second iron distance last weekend. We met through our blogs, but she has always been so encouraging to me. We’ll go on rides where she could put down 112 miles like nothing, and she hangs with me… or at least stays within distance to check on me if I don’t appear within 10 minutes. She puts human before sport. And that is a great lesson to learn, and early in the triathlon process.
If you are in a place to encourage others.. then you should do it. Be an ambassador for this sport, and give back. Your encouragement might get someone across a finish line, or…better yet… to the starting line.
I wrote this post awhile back, and I come back to it all the time. That post is part of the reason that I write, part of the reason I blabber about my butt pudding… Everyone struggles in life, in triathlon. The more I write, the more I understand how important it is to share our experiences, and to lift others up. If I am able to encourage ONE person in my whole life… it’s a little happiness in my brain that gives my Tri Life just a little more meaning.
5) Be Grateful
This is a tough one for me. I have soooooo much to say “thank you” for. And yet, I fight and struggle and always want more. I find when I take the time to become aware of my body, my spirit and my blessings…. things become clearer, and even more blessed.
I try to run –and even when I am hurting, to be grateful that I have a body that can run (or at least move forward in some motion that masquerades as running with a chicken wing.)
Some of us right now are hurting beyond words and suffering through the unimaginable. I cannot say I understand what each of you is going through… but I can say that when I have suffered, my gratefulness made a difference.
6) Don’t Underestimate the Importance of What You are Doing
Your training and what you are doing… is important! No, training should not take priority over your life. You have responsbilities, and those must take the cake.
But your training….it matters. It’s more than race day. It’s more than a tight set of buns (which I have not found yet, btw.) The simple movement of forward motion may be enough to save your sanity. Sometimes taking a walk, a ride or a swim will wash away the horrific pain and stains of the daily grind, just for a brief time, which may give your spirit just enough re-charge and power to go on… and take care of things that matter.
7) Take Care of Yourself from the Foundation Up
This is more triathlon-related-direct-to-the-point stuff. Recently, I have been a strength training ninja, thanks to my friend Elizabeth turning me on to this a-maz-ing book by fellow Atlanta triathlon awesomeness, Andrew Johnston.
This book deals with a strong foundation to your triathlon training, a holistic approach to strength-training… and more. It’s wonderful. Truly. And if I had taken care of building this great base from the beginning of my triathlon training, I would have been saved alot of grief and pain and injury.
Secondly, I have sought help for these issues when needed. Specifically, Dr. Miracle Man Hands and his magic ART therapy. If you are anywhere near Atlanta and you are having issues with back, knees, neck, shoulders… okay, anywhere on your body that triathlon touches—check with the Dr. MMH. I was completely unable to walk about three weeks out of Augusta from severe hip and knee pain. My friend, Sweet Red, connected me with Dr. Miracle Man Hands, and the rest is history. I see Dr. MMH once a week, and I am so so grateful.
This kind of foundation building is a lifesaver for triathlon. And a sanity saver.
8) Don’t Eat Crap
Okay, so this is THE one that I struggle with. Most. But FACT: eat well, feel well.
And I am back down 10 pounds, and feeling more sane with every healthy little Metabolic Meal that I ingest. As Ilana always reminds me… food is the one thing in life that I actually have control over. I can choose what to eat, when to eat, and how to eat it.
So having something in your life that you can really, truly control… helps.
9) Move On… (Forward, of course).
P90x guru, Tony Horton, has the best quote ever. “Do your best, forget the rest.”
Have a bad workout? A bad meal? A slip up? You just keep moving forward (oh, yes…it’s true!)… and you “do your best, forget the rest.”
Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t hate yourself. Just do better immediately. Don’t wait until Monday. Don’t wait until the Spring. Just do better now. Dust yourself off and get back on track.
10) Believe in YOU.
There’s a big section in my book, Triathlon for the Every Woman, about how to deal with triathlon training when you are in a relationship with a complete butthead. (It’s true… I wrote butthead in my book… along with other things.)
That section stemmed from my realization that there are three types of scenarios when you are training to become a triathlete:
a) You are the solo triathlete in your family and you have a supportive partner;
b) You are the solo triathlete in your family and you have an unsupportive (or worse, abusive) partner; or
c) You are in a relationship with another triathlete.
All three have challenges, which I address…. but the one thing that must remain a constant… no matter where you fall in that list…
You. Must. Believe. In. You.
To stay sane in triathlon, you must stay focused on your goals, believe that you can reach them with hard work and dedication, and never stray. Don’t let doubt find a place to rest anywhere.
I may be a “weak” runner. I may be “fat.” But when I set out on a run, or a race… there is only my body to fail me. I will not let my mind give up on me.
I have the crazy BELIEVE gene.
Why? Well, I believe because I have seen miracles happen through triathlon. I have read about paratriathlete heroes finishing the World Championships…I have recently learned about Hector Picard, a man tackling Ironman without arms finishing a 2.4 mile swim in less time that I can even imagine… I have met heroes through the Getting 2 Tri Foundation who are biking further and faster than I can…and they do it… because they believe in themselves. They believe that the limits in life are only those we place on ourselves. And they prove this sentiment over and over again…
We all must believe in ourselves… it will save us alot of worry and craziness if we just tell our bodies to behave, and let our mind grow stronger with our determination and positive resolve each day.
Chrissie Wellington said it best (of course she did!)…
“If we let our head drop, our heart drops with it. Keep your head up, and your body is capable of amazing feats.”
The Paperback book.