Happy New Year everyone! I hope you’re surviving and thriving through the winter weather. A few days ago, I read an article in the Los Angeles Times entitled “Are We Trading Happiness for Convenience?” by Greg Jackson. The author comments on the constantly changing landscape of the media world, primarily with disappearing video and record stores. He understands the economic impact of streaming services and music apps but wonders more philosophically whether the pleasure of the thing (whether it’s a movie or a song) lies in the thing itself, or in the experiential process of discovery.
Which got me to thinking about triathlon, naturally. I’ve always been fascinated with the idea that I derive pleasure from an activity that, in the midst of it, is many times quite the opposite. In fact, I seem to glean more pleasure from enduring especially difficult endeavors, whether it’s completing a morning run in 35F and rain, finishing off a set of zone 5 intervals on the bike, or simply getting healthy again from an injury. So just like I loved visiting the local record store and pining endlessly through the racks of albums to find the perfect selection, it’s that task difficulty that often makes doing this sport worth it.
Let’s be honest: this sport is tough. Many people will look for quicker, more streamlined ways to make this triathlon experience easier, but perhaps they are robbing themselves of some gratification by skipping out on some of the process? Success in triathlon requires sacrifice, patience, and above all, consistency. Those who consistently get out and do the work will reap the greatest benefits in fitness, and subsequently in races and results. As Mr. Jackson says, “we need pleasures that involve us, that do not merely pass through us, like barium, untouched.”
Embrace the challenges that triathlon presents. Recognize your growth both physically, mentally, and emotionally through your yearly endeavors. Celebrate overcoming some of the hardest obstacles. Appreciate the experience and don’t let the daily monotony of triathlon pass through your senses, eliminating the self-discoveries that can accompany it.