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Where’s the Love?

I had a call with my coach this morning to talk about nothing in particular and everything in general. I’m sure he enjoyed talking to Debbie Downer, which is my new persona as of late.  Swim Bike Bummer.  Swim Bike Buzz Kill.   Well, I’m not to be trusted with people in public, which is why I bailed on a girl’s night out tonight with friends, and why I refuse to respond to most everyone’s texts.  I’m trying so hard to engage in my life, but it’s not really turning out so well for me. [To my credit…  I am doing a lot of work on myself, turning inward at the moment and breathing and trying to go to bed at 9:30… and that takes a ton of energy. Because I am a mess.]

And ’tis the season!  I don’t think I am alone.

I have seen a lot of posts on Facebook and in our groups from others… to the effect of “I have no motivation” and “I’ve signed up for this Ironman and I don’t know why” – and after talking with my coach this morning, it seems to be a common theme with us triathletes. After a handful of seasons – especially when a string of them of them involve big beasts like Ironman – the “why in the hell do I even bother with this sport” is something that tends to start to run through our heads.

That is a valuable question to ask.

When the motivational well feels completely dry… how do we find the strength to bother with this sport?

What puts you back on that trainer at 5:30 in the morning?  What laces up those running shoes when you swear that one more run will do you in?

Motivation for the sake of motivation is hard to come by.  Competition can even worse, I think–the art of hating someone and wanting to tear out their throat on the triathlon race course can only do so much for your sanity after a while. [Insert theme from “Frozen” here.]

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I wrote about this after my first Ironman.  Falling in love again with the sport.  And how you do it.   How do you fall in love again when you… just feel out of love? Burned out? Tired? Hating the bike? Hating yourself?

And I didn’t have the real answer then. And I don’t have, technically, the real answer now. But I do know– with another “ironman” complete and a year under my belt–maybe a little more.

And the answer is… you can’t make the love happen.

Because triathlon love sometimes just happens.  And sometimes the triathlon love just goes away.

But I think… you can make the love more likely, perhaps more sustainable.  Like any relationship, you can work on your relationship with your workouts and yourself and see that, if you lean on the training a little more and if you invest in yourself, that the love may come back… that if you work on loving yourself and your life, that it might be easier to find the mojo.

Also, part of the engagement theme. You gotta show up to life.  And say, “I’m here.”  Same way you have to show up to the workout and say, “Count me in.  Here we go.”

Easier said than done, for sure.

SWIMBIKEMOM_Karen McGirr Daugherty

But consistency is such a huge part of it, I know.  Putting the shoes on and just going, all zombie-like to the treadmill and putting in the run, and putting oneself in the shower afterwards. Getting through the workouts is sometimes all you can do.  Then eventually, one day, you wake up and say, “Hey! I AM BACK!” That’s often how it happens for me.  It’s all about getting the momentum going.  The good streaks rolling.

When I was training for my first half ironman, I rarely missed any workout. I was slow and plodding (oh wait, still am!)… but I ticked off workouts and was consistent as I could be.  That was a wonderful time in my triathlon life.  I could measure the progress. Consistency.  So I know it works.

So right now… as rough as the waters have been, I have made a point to saddle up and tick down the slow and steady training… surviving workouts where I can and getting most of it done.

Knowing that I am summoning the love to come back.  And I know it will. I believe.

At least, that’s what I’m trying to do.

And today, I had a nice loving workout with my *new* bike, Lucy. And I can report that she and I doing alright. 🙂



  • Jennifer Giesber

    December 16, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    Here’s some BIG LOVE and BIG HUGS. This is the ebb and flow of what we do, and well, life. Even without triathlon this happens. Hang in there. Even on your down times remember you’re still inspiring just by being honest and sharing your feelings just like this. Thank you very much. I am sure I can speak for the entire SBM Army, Here’s a BIG GROUP HUG TO YOU!!!! Mwah and lots of love! We are all here for you in highs and lows unconditionally, that’s what makes us a family.

    • Tracey Bourke

      December 16, 2014 at 3:55 pm

      Hey SBM,
      Feel your pain, struggled through a long run yesterday infact have been dragging my arse for some time now, a number of reasons, but yesterday I crawled through the door, and logged onto FB. 60 year old had mother, wife and Nanna had just lost her life a in a car accident a small distance from where I live and train, 6 others hurt also, reality slapped me in the face and reminded me what a privledge it is live, love and train!!!!!!!!!!

  • Jeanine

    December 16, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    This is just what I needed!!
    I did 2 full marathons and a HIM as well as a handful of Olympic distance tri’s. I feel so burned out. I’m just making myself get out there. Running is the worst right now. So thanks for helping me not feel alone.

  • Margi

    December 16, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    Meredith I just came off a long period of burnout after two full Ironmans. I had to take a few months away from triathlon. I rode my cruiser bike a lot. I walk/ran with my daughter. I went to yoga. I went on a vacation where I did a ton of walking and little else. I put the watch away and gave myself permission to walk as much as I wanted. I went for hikes and I am happy to say that I am once again in love with training. I am looking forward to each and every workout and have put together almost four solid weeks. You have lots of time before Louisville. Maybe you should take a month and just play :):) Sending hugs and strength your way fearless leader and I am confident that soon you will find your mojo again :):)

  • Jessica

    December 16, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    I totally get this. I trained for four Ironman over five years, and by the sixth year I just needed a break. I took almost the entire year off competition. I worked out when I wanted to, but generally…I slept in, worked on making some life changes and got healthy. This stuff takes a toll, even though it’s so much fun! You can’t rush the break, either. I had hoped that after a month or two I’d be back to normal, but it took a good six months before I was mentally ready to go again. I found that I had to go at my own pace and do what felt right, because rushing it when I wasn’t ready was a recipe for disappointment. The good news is that I’m back now and better than ever and signed up for Ironman Florida next fall! Ironman takes so much of YOU…sometimes you need to get away to regroup, coming back stronger than ever.

  • Kelly McKillip

    December 16, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    Thanks! I see myself in every word. I posted just today on trifecta about not having the “love”. Giving myself 2 more weeks before I force the workouts to begin. This way I can enjoy the holidays and my family.

  • Rita Paladino

    December 17, 2014 at 2:33 am

    Glad I am not the only one! …. today i was telling my friend, that everyday that I get up I think ” WTH did agree to do this” …. I am training for my fist half IM and the weather and the season isn’t helping. Lol… but we have tk do the
    work! …. Thanks for sharing…:)

  • cheryl

    December 17, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    Sweet bike! Let us know how she handles. I am going to be the black sheep here I guess…I have never NOT wanted to train for tris-and since I am going on my 33rd year of training and racing (most of you aren’t even that old) I guess I have to say I LOVE it. All of it. Swimming-cycling, running, mountain biking, hiking, yoga- and maybe the key is to mix it all up a bit. Enter trail races, Xterras, do nothing on the road for a few years-it’s good for the soul! And go by yourself to get to know yourself more and know that you are ok training by yourself. I still get up at four a.m. before work and lace up, put on my goggles or jump on my LIGHTED bike and head out. I am at work by seven- but I feel SO GOOD by the time I get to work and it gives me SO much energy to get through my teaching preschoolers all day. Hope you get your MOJO back soon….you will I am sure!

  • elizabeth Molina Campos

    January 7, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    THANKS! I enrolled in September 2015 for my first sprint tri (which will be in Aug 2015). Both my husband and I did. And then I decided to enroll in another one (for June 2015). And still a virgin in the tri world. I don’t know, got the bug or something. And I was training and loving it. And then the holidays came, and break, and rest, and sleeping…and I came back and I started thinking “what the hell was I thinking enrolling not in 1 but 2 tri? (sprint, but tri none the less)”. And I am dragging myself to workout… but reading this, your words, helped me a lot, A LOT!!!!! I am heading out of work (now) and heading to the gym again, and going for a run and swim. Thanks for the help!!! Can’t wait for spring to arrive so I can go outside, I am in Chicago, and HATE winter… I feel like a lab rat, running in circles…. trying to find the cheese… But keeping positive. Thanks!
    BTW, my husband, bought the journal “thriathlete”, and there I read your article, loved it and found your blog
    Happy and healthy new year to everyone


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