Triathlon can become an obsession. I have seen many a person over the years become addicted to it. I am certainly not immune to periods where I have let my passion for triathlon become a little obsessive.
My passion is not in the numbers, the training data and the rigidity of a structured training program but the pursuit of constantly seeking new challenges. The purity of a testing one’s self against our greatest enemy, the mind.
For many people entering the sport in recent years the passion has become about the numbers. Strava for one sees many people going for wins over specific distances or routes and beating the competition, fellow Strava users from around the World. I am not against competition in an online capacity at all. But have we lost the true essence of the sport by getting lost in the digital World?
There are so many digital platforms available for people to download their training data. And there are devices that measure just about anything when it comes to training. Data does have a place in measuring any athletes program. But I fear we have gone too far in the direction of the training data. We have lost our balance.
The days of training by feel, measuring progress by how we feel and simply training and racing for the challenge and fun seems to have been lost. If our progress is constantly measured by a screen where is the human element?
No amount of data will replace our humanity. Data can’t tell us how we feel. It doesn’t quantify our emotions. It is our emotions that can have such a massive impact on how well we train and race. How do we explain the amazing feats we see in racing when the data says, you’re at your limit. When your heart rate is at it’s supposed maximum, your power numbers say you are at your limit yet people find more.
We forget what the data says and tap into the human spirit. We face the ultimate sporting contest, against our mind. If our speeds and performances are determined by the data, we are limiting ourselves. How do we know what we are truly capable of if we’re not prepared to go beyond the data.
As the World is gripped by a crisis in COVID 19 now is the perfect time to find balance again. Move away from the structure. Move away from measuring sessions. Move away from using data and train by instinct and feel. Connect to our inner athlete and don’t measure anything other than how it felt.
Racing will come back at some stage. When it comes back we can go back to the data, the structure and rigidity of preparing for a race. In the meantime let’s use the opportunity to find some balance again. Go back to why you started the sport. It wasn’t about the data. I suspect for most of us it was about the inner challenge.
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