Why we need to try something new

In conversations recently with different athletes about the cancellation of events, it’s been interesting to reflect on how people approach things outside of their control.  And the cancellation of events certainly falls into that category.

In my previous blog I wrote about motivation  https://worldmultisport.com/2022/04/11/where-has-my-motivation-gone/.  I thought it prudent to follow up with something that is about the step forward. What do you do next?  What event should I do?

Triathlon is a great sport due to its cross-discipline nature of swim, bike and run.  It provides fantastic aerobic fitness, improves muscular endurance, and builds mental resilience.

There are several distances and different type of events that you can choose from within triathlon.  And for someone like myself as a self-confessed triathlon tragic who has been involved in the sport since 1989 it continues to deliver great experiences.

Additionally, single sport events in swimming, cycling, and running also provide opportunities to test oneself. And then with the great outdoor lifestyle that is on offer in New Zealand we have so many off road events as well to choose from.  Therefore, there’s no excuse in my opinion not to get excited about trying something new.

Essentially, it’s an opportunity to reframe a situation.  While your key event may have been cancelled or postponed, now we can try something new that beforehand wasn’t an option.  And with something new it means getting out of our comfort zone.  Exploring our limits and tapping into why we started triathlon in the first place, to challenge ourselves.

Often, I see triathletes label themselves by the distance they race. I am a long course athlete, I don’t like short course or sprint type events. Or I don’t race long, I only race the short stuff, don’t have time for that nonsense.  Or I am triathlete, not a cyclist so I’m not interested in a bike race.

Maybe your preference is in long course racing.  However, by doing shorter events such as sprint triathlon you’ll be become a more well-rounded triathlete and therefore improve in your key long course events.  How you ask?

Racing is racing and all the training in the World doesn’t teach you what a race can. Even a low-key club race with minimal competitors can teach you more than a training session every will. How did you handle the discomfort?  Were you able to push through when your brain was telling you to stop?  What were your transitions like? How were your running legs off the bike?  What were your skills like in the open water?

Regardless of the distance or type of event a race is the best place to improve your craft. Even a 5km Park Run teaches you much about where your strength and weaknesses lie.  Sometimes in squad training sessions I will surprise athletes with a time trial. Partly to see where their fitness is at but also to see how they prepare mentally.  Any time there is a clock measuring time it’s perfectly normal to get nervous, just like you would in a race.

That nervousness and even anxiety that you feel in such situations is a perfect reason why doing different events and racing often will help make you a more well-rounded athlete.  And then when you get to your key event those experiences of doing different events come to the fore and help you perform better when you need to.


About Mark

Mark is one of Australia's most experienced and knowledgeable triathlon coaches. With over 25 years experience coaching at all levels from kids, youth, adult and elite professional athletes across the World. He loves seeing people change their lives through triathlon.

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