Life's little lessons...for a Triathlete

So in today's (successful!) attempt at procrastination, I stumbled upon a list of 20 "Instructions for Life." The article I read argued that the true author of these 20 lessons is an H. Jackson Brown, although the Dalai Lama has since taken credit for these.

And since training for IMLP has taken over my life for the past 8 months, in a very positive and rewarding way, I'm translating the 20 Life Lessons to apply them to the Wonderful World of Triathlon.
So here it is! Mr. Brown/Mr. Lama's list...and with my twist for us triathletes:

1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
Risk the pain and the early mornings. Risk losing your social life and telling co-workers that you can't go to a Happy Hour because you haven't gotten your 2nd workout in yet. Risk riding with stronger girls who drop you at the first turn, and risk having people pass you on the run. And then, risk signing up for your first triathlon, or your first marathon, or your first Ironman.
Risk having your feet look like this:
NOT my feet!
PS - I got my first bloody toenail after Eagleman last weekend!

2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
I lost back in October. I lost my hamstring (it tore, damn fragile thing), and it's prevented me from running and jumping and skipping and building up my endurance miles. My Lesson Learned: don't overtrain when my muscles are telling me to stop. I now realize that a couple days off can save you from a year-long injury.

3. Follow the three R’s:
- Respect for self. I know I can be faster and mightier...that's why I train!
- Respect for others. Hey, girl in the slow lane who wears snorkeling goggles at the pool: I admire you. Yeah, you. You come here every day and your feet get touched by people wanting to pass you. But learning to swim at the age of 30 is only for the Brave. RESPECT.

- Responsibility for all your actions. Yeah, sometimes I play the blame game and I start hating. Damn the people who don't have jobs and can train all day. Damn the people who can go to happy hours after work. Damn the spectators on the Eagleman course who yell, "10 more miles!"...boy, their faces look like great punching bags.

But, in the end, I chose this. I chose to train for an Ironman and I chose triathlon as my hobby. Every time I groan about the 5th hour of a training ride, or about how there's never enough ice cream in the freezer (this may not be due to triathlon training...), or about waking up at 6 am for Haines Point swims, I have to remind myself that I'm lucky!!! Yes, lucky! to have such a wonderful social circle of training buddies, to live in a bike-friendly D.C. with its outdoor 50-meter pool and humidity (bleh!), and to have the voracity to appreciate pizza and ice cream and grilled cheese sandwiches with little care for the pudge that pokes out every time that damn tri jersey rides up.
Worth every single calorie!
4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
The whole reason I started triathlon was because I wasn't getting what I wanted. I had just moved to D.C., I didn't have any friends, and I was fat from my days of staring at goats and eating rice, rice, and more rice.

Then one day, I saw a random Team in Training flyer with a very fit looking girl on the brochure cover, surrounded by all of her purple-spandex-smoking-hot friends.
So I joined Team in Training in a desperate attempt to somehow rekindle that love for working out and make some friends.

And it worked! My best friends in D.C. are those I've met through training, I lost (some of) the pudge, and I fell in love with triathlon!

I still remember the first day they gave us our Team in Training we are trying to figure out what the hell that thick pad between our legs was going to feel like on the run!??!!?

5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
Um, I am not sure I advocate breaking rules. Especially drafting rules.
But I'll go out on a limb here and say the rules that can be broken without guilt are:
1. Always listen to the doctor.
2. Free samples limited to one per person.
3. Eat your veggies first, then dessert.
4. Stretch before exercising.
5. Stretch after exercising.
6. Heel striking is BAD and EVIL.
7. Always wear a bra.

6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great relationship.
You know how sometimes you get cranky at your bike for having dropped its chain, or maybe you blame a slow swim split on your goggles that fogged up?  Or maybe you're furious at your training partner, who consistently cancels your Satr morning rides, leaving you biking 80 miles solo. Get over it. Let's all spread the love.

See? Even Homer realized that when his wife didn't bring home donuts for breakfast, there was no reason to be mad!

7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
I snot-rocketed a guy at Eagleman biking behind me, and I remember apologizing about 20 times before moving on. Then every snot rocket after that, I made sure no innocent biker was in my wake.

8. Spend some time alone every day.
I love to run alone.  It's peaceful.  And my bike commute time is my own precious hour every day that I get to pedal past those angry commuters stuck in DC traffic on my way to work and daydream about the endless possibilities of what to cook for dinner on my way home.

9. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
Change is good! We'd still be riding one of these 1950s bikes around if it weren't for CHANGE. 
And running around in cotton t-shirts...shudder...

10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
"Silence is golden" - I never got that one. I am a natural chatterbox, and probably only 5% of what I say actually has value.  Listen to me long enough and you'll realize that all I'm really talking about is either how excited I am for today, or how excited I am that I have an ice cream maker, or how excited I am to do Lake Placid in a month.
OK, so I'm excited.  I could have stopped there.

11. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.
Yep, no regrets. Travel. Laugh. Work hard. Play hard. Do stuff so your grandkids will say, "Tell me again about the story when you slaughtered the camel!" or "You mean you took a road trip for 50 hours? Why didn't you just fly there (or whatever new technology is out in 40 years)?!?" Live for the experience and make your life exciting!

12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
I tell Bart more than ten times a day that I love him.  This is about 9 times more than is necessary, but I figure that those are the 3 most important words when it really comes down to it.  Most of the time, he responds with Rule #10.
This is me...

...and this is Bart.

13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.
Don't harbor resentment.  That's a recipe bound to erupt and a bad way. If something's bothering you, why wait until the next time it happens to bring it up?

14. Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.
When I first started doing tris, I didn't know anything.  If it weren't for the shared knowledge (eh, maybe it was pity) of others, I'd still be riding my bike in running shorts with no chamois cream!  I remember asking fellow teammates/seasoned triathletes where I could change from my swimsuit to my tri kit in T1 and how to clip in (then a foreign concept, my sneakers were just fine for cycling shoes!); your learning curve is so steep when you start out!

15. Be gentle with the earth.
Bike commute!

16. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.
It doesn't have to be an international place, or a exotic destination. Hell, it could even be your first yoga class! Get out of your comfort zone and try something new - and remember Rule #9!
17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
I could get all gushy on this one, but I won't. 

18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
We all give up sleep, a social life, drinking, bedtimes past midnight, sleeping in on weekends, our spending budgets...and for all our hard work and training, all we get is a race t-shirt and a finisher's medal? 100% SUCCESS!!!

19. If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
When someone passes you, tell them, "Great job!"  When you pass someone, tell them "nice pace!" Thank race directors and always let volunteers know that you appreciate them.  Some of them have been out there longer than you have! 

20. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
Do everything in #19 and you'll be happy, too! Win-Win!!  

Popular Posts