I am addicted to triathlon. I admit it. I will always admit it. I not only enjoy the sport, but am addicted to reading about it and trying to gain knowledge about the sport. I am addicted to it because it keeps me healthy, keeps me motivated, and keeps me going in life. It is a stress reliever and helps me to overcome some of those rough days. Sometimes I wonder if I am too addicted to this sport, but realize it could be worse.
I just learned that one of my best friends when I was growing up, just died. His heart just gave out on him. I knew that he had another addiction that was killing him, alcohol. He was addicted. I remember in high school when he started to drink. Just like a lot of young people, he dabbled with alcohol and drank too much sometimes. The problem was that this little habit in high school turned into a real problem in his life. He was addicted to the bottle in a way that few can imagine. He almost died a different time because of alcohol poisoning. He didn’t know when to stop. He had tried to stop many times, but just couldn’t kick the habit. Alcohol addiction is an addiction that will kill you. It can lead to many diseases and ultimately your heart can just stop. I know of another person with the same issues that died in the same way. If you are addicted to alcohol, then admit the problem and get help.
The good thing about triathlon addiction is that you can use it to get healthy. Triathlon addiction can lead to avoiding family time, opening too much money on equipment, or missing work to train. However, when this addiction is checked it can lead to a healthy lifestyle, a love for the outdoors, and an overall driven personality. I have found this sport to help me to do even more in my professional life because of the drive I exhibit in my triathlon life.
So how do you temper some of the addiction to triathlon:
- Do not neglect your family – Anyone knows that if “Momma ain’t happy, then no one is happy.” I know that if I ignore my family then I really have nothing left. If at the end of my life I look back and try to evaluate my life and see that triathlon took me away from my family then I will severely regret ever getting into the sport. I have found two things that help me. First, I spend as much time as possible with my family during the offseason. I go overboard to spend the time with the family during the weekends when I would normally be training. I make sure to focus on there needs even more. Second, I make sure that everyone in the house knows my training schedule. If I have a 6 hour bike ride on a Saturday than I make sure to out it on the family calendar and make sure my wife and kids knows it is coming. I do have the advantage of having Fridays off when my wife is working and my kids are at school. I make sure to put some of my longer training items during these times so as not to infringe on family time. I have found that when I come up on Friday afternoon and tell my wife I have a 2 hour run and a 4 hour bike ride the next day and she has not heard about it before then, that it does not go well. The main thing is that if you will be there for your family then they will be there for you when its race day.
- Budget your expenses – Every year, there are race fees that have to be paid and equipment that needs to be bought. You have to have a budget for these items or you will spend wildly in a sport that is always sending out more and more equipment for you to buy to make your faster. I do a couple of things in my budgeting. First, I lay out my race dates 6 months to a year before the race day. Most races have early bird specials that expire at increments of time away from the race. I try to get in on the earliest rate as possible to save money over registering at the last minute. Second, I prioritize my equipment purchases. I do not have an endless amount of money, so I need to prioritize the items that are going to help me most in triathlon. I look at items that make the most sense and try to avoid all of the gimmicks out there. Third, I discuss my equipment purchases with my wife so that we are on the same page. Lastly, I ask for gift cards, cash, or equipment for my birthday and Christmas so as to get my equipment purchases that way. I always have a budget before the race season begins to stay within so as not to spend too much like a triathlon addict can.
- Have realistic expectations – Unless you are going to do triathlon professionally for a living, you have to have realistic expectations. If you are a weekend warrior, doing this for a hobby then make sure to keep it in the proper perspective. Yes, be competitive. Yes, train hard. Yes, go for the prize. Yes, qualify for Kona. But don’t miss your kids piano recital to get in a few extra laps in the pool or your kids soccer game because you needed that extra hour on the bike. Be realistic is that $1500 wheel set or $10,000 bike going to make you any more pleased with your triathlon performance. Our addictions can get out of hand and make us choose certain decisions that are disastrous. In the sport of triathlon, your addiction to the sport can lead you to do crazy things. Keep it all in perspective… you aren’t going to be a professional at this sport… you have a day job… you have a family… you have a life.
Triathlon is one of the most engaging sports. It keeps you changing from discipline to discipline over and over again. It is a blast. But keep your addiction under control and remember that there are much better things to do than lose your job or your family because of all your training. So while you have spent the last 10 minutes reading this post, you could have hugged your wife or sent a nice message to your kids.