Entering a training camp with 20 other triathletes is always a novel experience. Sue and I just spent four days in the company of athletes from every level, facing the challenges of riding and swimming and running in our own way. But the hallmark of every camp I’ve ever attended is that you wind up pulling for everyone.
By that I mean you come to care how other people are doing. How to handle the fatigue that builds up from doing three sports a day. Getting the right nutrition into the body.
Because when you care, you also learn. The conversation among athletes tells you as much about the sport of triathlon as the training itself. We were also fortunate to have two world-class athletes to visit our camp. Ben Hoffman was second at Kona and related the volume and intensity he needs to compete at a world-class level. We also heard a talk by Sara True, the ITU triathlete that has transitioned to Ironman and finished fourth at Kona last year.
Both gifted athletes shared the challenges of racing at the top. The ups and downs of failed races and massive triumphs. Sarah related the additional challenge of facing acute depression in the wake of the Rio Olympics. Her testimony was inspiring in an entirely different way.
The social aspects of triathlon are both highly personal and publicly profounds. Sarah encouraged us all to consider not just the “how” of doing triathlons, but the “why” as well. And pay attention to your craft.
Which means paying attention to others as well. Don’t let the personal journey become so self-centered that it wipes away the real you. There’s a simple rule that works for everyone: It’s great to push ourselves and pull for others. Where have we heard that before?