On the eve of my first tri of the season- Leon's Triathlon (though I will be run/walking the run), I had a realization. For the past almost 1.5 years, I lost my momentum in this sport. Training, and the results it brought, were sporadic, as well as my motivation. However, worse than this, was how I was beating myself up over it. Almost in every post I've written, I have been disappointed in myself for my lack of consistency. I've seen every skipped workout as a failure, and taken it personally. I saw it reflecting on myself- I was unmotivated, couldn't commit, had no willpower. Now I am realizing that those thoughts are pure negative energy and do nothing to help me.
This will be my first Olympic distance in two years. I looked back on my results from that last race, where I was not tapered and remember feeling flat/awful the entire time. This also led me to look at the training surrounding it. A far cry from my training in the past year. Consistent long runs over 10 miles, weekday morning bike rides of 18-25 miles, swimming 3x/week, etc. I was also about 15 lbs lighter. So the first thing I jumped to when seeing these old training logs was "wow, I was so good then and so bad now." But wait a minute, yes, you were good at triathlon, or at least training for one. But my life is very different from then to now.
Back then, I was in the early stages of my research, and my productivity in that respect was pitiful. Train in the morning and come in late- no problem! Now I'm thriving in that arena (at least some days) and working part time as a therapist. Not only do I not have the flexibility in schedules that I use to, but my work leaves me much more stressed and fatigued. Back then I could swim before or after work, being away from home for 14 hr periods. Now I have a wonderful dog who would not like that so much. Back then I had no competing weekend plans. Now there are conferences, weddings, etc.
Back then, triathlon was all I did, all I defined myself with. And that was great. I was faster than I can imagine now, at least in terms of running. I was proud of myself, for training and racing. Others were proud of me too. I was happy doing triathlon. Now, I have a lot of other things to define me as well. These things take time and detract from triathlon, but they are also important. Yes, I'm a far cry from the athlete I was back then, but I'm also a far cry from that person, and mostly in a good way. Sometimes I think I don't like myself and am unhappy due to my "slob" state (aka that I don't train religiously and eat like a college kid...) and if I can just get back to those old habits, all will be right. I think what I just figured out now is that I don't need to go back to that, but rather, my happiness resides in accepting that fact. I am ok (or better than ok!) how I am. There are tradeoffs in priorities, and we just do the best we can with where we are at.
While I resolve to stop beating myself up for not being what I was, I also can recognize what I still want. I love competition. I would love to be competitive, at least at some level. I do still love this sport, and these past few days of reintroducing running have been a great reminder of how much I love to run.
I want to do better than I have been doing with training and eating and overall healthy lifestyle, but I will move on when this doesn't happen. I also need to let go of the "once was" and focus on where I am at now. While the whole season is up in the air thanks to this hip, I can't be competing with the old me. Maybe this year I can beat her, maybe next, maybe the year after. What I do know is that a year from now, I'll wish I started today. So I can put in the work now and not be upset when I don't see instant results in races. I can be ok with being slower than I was. But if I don't start training as a better me, next year will be no different.
Let's call the 2014 season my rebuilding year, and rather than worry about the failures, see all the positives as crafting a foundation. I might not make all the progress I want to, but something is better than nothing.